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Credit Availability Grows in January

Mortgage credit access opened up in January following a flat December, the ""Mortgage Bankers Association"":http://www.mortgagebankers.org/default.htm (MBA) revealed Tuesday.

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MBA's Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), a gauge of lending standards measured with data from the AllRegs Market Clarity product, increased 1.85 percent to an even 113 last month. The index was benchmarked at 100 in March 2012.

MBA chief economist Mike Fratantoni said January's net gain in credit offerings ""represented the combination of two divergent trends.""

""First, the market continues to adapt to the new QM [qualified mortgage] regulation by eliminating products that do not fit in side of the QM box. This tightening is being offset, both in the market for higher balance loans, where lenders continue to loosen terms for jumbo loans, and in the refi market, where more lenders are offering streamline refinance programs,"" Fratantoni said.

MBA's latest index fits with ""Fannie Mae's January National Housing Survey"":https://themreport.com/articles/consumer-views-on-mortgage-access-economy-improve-2014-02-10, in which more consumers expressed their belief that getting a mortgage today would be ""easy."" Both measures stand in contrast to the Federal Reserve's most recent ""Senior Loan Officer Survey"":https://themreport.com/articles/mortgage-demand-down-in-latest-quarter-terms-tighten-2014-02-04, which showed slightly tighter standards among lenders on net--a discrepancy Fratantoni addressed in MBA's release.

""The Federal Reserve's Senior Loan Officer Survey showed that mortgage credit standards loosened somewhat among larger institutions, but tightened for smaller lenders. The data underlying the MCAI is predominantly from larger, wholesale lenders and investors,"" he explained.

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