Buyers May Find Opening With Mortgage Credit

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Mortgage credit availability loosened in December, even as house hunters continue to face higher prices that are hampering affordability, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

MBA’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index posted its highest reading since May 2021. However, credit availability is still 30% below pre-pandemic levels.

"Credit supply increased in December, with growth across both conventional and government segments of the market,” Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a news release. "December's growth was driven by more ARM and lower credit score loan programs, which was likely due to a combination of the rising rate environment and affordability challenges. Lenders expanded offerings to qualified borrowers who were the most impacted by these market conditions. Additionally, there was an increase in government streamline refinance programs to aid borrowers still looking to refinance before rates rise even more."

The MBA report also notes a 34% increase in jumbo credit availability.

Home prices continue to rise. The median existing-home price for all housing types in November was $353,900, up 13.9% compared to a year earlier, the National Association of REALTORS® reports.

As home prices press higher, so is the amount that home buyers are borrowing to pay for a house. The average amount borrowed to finance a home purchase climbed to $414,115 in November, according to MBA.