Mortgage credit availability took a slight dip in October, breaking what had been a flat but generally upward trend for the past several months. As reported by MBA, the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) dropped to 181.0 in October, a decrease of 0.2 percent. This indicates that lenders are tightening lending standards.
Lynn Fisher, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics, said:
Credit availability decreased only slightly in October and has been relatively flat for the year to date. While government and conforming credit programs saw slight increases in availability in October, a moderate decrease in the number of investor jumbo offerings resulted in a decrease in the total index.
The MCAI sifts through data from Ellie Mae’s  AllRegs Market Clarity business information tool to gauge mortgage credit availability in a given month and over time. For context, the index was benchmarked to a rating of 100 in March 2012.
The MCAI tracks four component indices: Jumbo MCAI, Conventional MCAI, Government MCAI, and Conforming MCAI. The Government MCAI includes various government loan programs such as those from the Federal Housing Association  (FHA), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs  (VA), and United States Department of Agriculture  (USDA). The other three indices track various non-governmental loans.
While the overall MCAI dipped in October, both Government MCAI and Conforming MCAI increased during the month (up 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively). Conventional MCAI dropped by 1.0 percent, while Jumbo MCAI took the biggest hit, sliding down 2.0 percent.
The MCAI has been on an upward trend since July 2017 , when it was reported as 178.5. In August , it jumped to 180.2, and September  saw another increase to 181.4. September actually saw all four of the tracked indices increase, with Conforming and Conventional both jumping up 1.5 percent.
The MCAI takes into account factors such as credit score, loan type, and loan-to-value ratio. It is updated on a monthly basis.