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Access to mortgage credit in the United States tightened in the first quarter of 2015, marking a pause in easy accessibility for buyers. It had been getting progressively easier to obtain a mortgage since 2012, but the first several months of this year marked a change, according to according to the latest Zillow Mortgage Access Index (ZMAI). Mortgage credit availability is almost unchanged from a year ago, meaning despite fluctuations from quarter to quarter, there has been little progress toward making mortgages easier to obtain over the last year. In the long term, experts expect mortgage access to continue improving. In a survey earlier this summer of more than 100 economists and housing experts, more than 60% said they expect mortgage regulations to loosen further, with many expressing concern the market will become too lax over the next year. A high number in the Zillow Mortgage Access Index means credit is easier to obtain, while a lower number means credit is tighter. Mortgage credit was easiest to obtain in July 2004, when the ZMAI reached 136.4. But availability tightened over the next few years. In May 2007, both the housing and mortgage availability began a multi year plunge, leaving home values down more than 22% and credit the tightest in recent history. Mortgages were the toughest to obtain in September 2010, when the ZMAI was at 11.8. Today, access to mortgage credit has improved significantly, and is at 65, more than two thirds of the way back to 2002 pre-crisis levels. 'Recent market volatility is causing some lenders to be more cautious in their underwriting. Tighter mortgage access will make it harder for people with low credit scores to get a home loan, and even people who can get approved for a mortgage will have fewer options in terms of available mortgage products,' said Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell. Continue reading →
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