NEW YORK – May 13, 2015 – Lenders continue to loosen standards on home loans. Government and jumbo programs saw the most easing, while conventional conditions tightened.

At 122.0, the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) was higher than it's been in at least four years, and possibly five years based on a historical graph.

An increase in the index – which provides a standardized quantitative index solely focused on mortgage credit – indicates that lending standards on home loans are loosening.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported the index based on data from Ellie Mae Inc.

March 31, 2012, has been established as the base period, with an index of 100.

The index was up for the third consecutive month from 121.4 in March.

As of April 2014, the index was 113.8.

"The increase was driven by new offerings of FHA's 203K home improvement program, new VA offerings, and new jumbo products," MBA Chief Economist Mike Fratantoni said in a written statement. "The increase was partially offset by some investors tightening underwriting criteria on conventional cash out offerings."

But while the trend has been improving, credit standards remain nowhere near levels during the pre-crisis go-go years – with the index estimated to have been approximately 880 in 2006.

The Government MCAI rose 1.1 percent from March, the best month-over-month improvement of any loan type.

A 0.8 percent rise was recorded for the jumbo index, while credit standards on conforming loans eased 0.2 percent.

The only category to tighten was conventional, with that index contracting 0.6 percent.

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