The Mortgage Credit Availability Index – a monthly report from the Mortgage Bankers Association – tracks whether lending standards are becoming looser or more restrictive. In July, the index increased 2.9 percent, indicating that mortgage credit is becoming more available. “Credit availability increased in July, mainly driven by higher-balance loan programs,” MBA’s chief economist, Mike Fratantoni, said. “Many investors are fine tuning their cash-out refinance requirements to meet increasing borrower demand for home equity financing. Some investors increased the availability of low down payment loans.” Among the four loan types tracked by the index – conventional, jumbo, government, and conforming – the conventional MCAI saw the greatest loosening, according to the report. In fact, the index component tracking conventional loans increased 5.2 percent from the month before. Jumbo loans saw a 4.7 percent increase, while the government and conforming indices both rose less than 1 percent. Following the housing crisis, lending standards became more restrictive and mortgage credit was harder to obtain. Over the past few years, however, standards have normalized somewhat and financing has become more available. More here.