Credit availability increases
For those who think the lending standards are too tight and are afraid they will be denied a mortgage, here's some good news: Credit availability is expected to continue to increase through the spring, says Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the MBA.
The MBA's credit availability index increased 0.7 percent to 118.6 in February, according to the latest data. Increases in the index indicate that credit is loosening up. The index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012.
"I expect that credit availability will continue to slowly improve over the next couple of years," Fratantoni says. "Beyond the availability of mortgage credit, as captured by our index, another beneficial change for the market is that FHA reduced mortgage insurance premiums in time for the spring season. This should be a positive for the market as well."
The FHA, or Federal Housing Administration, has significantly reduced the annual insurance premium that borrowers have to pay. Borrowers who take out FHA loans and make down payments of less than 5 percent will be charged 0.85 percent of the loan amount every year for mortgage insurance. Until recently, the premium was 1.35 percent per year.