Mortgage credit availability as measured by Zillow’s Mortgage Access Index has risen steadily over the past two years to surpass a halfway point between the depths of 2011 and the peak of the boom in August 2004.
The new metric (ZMAI) combines seven sources of data: credit score data, debt to income ratios, PMI availability, quotes on Zillow’s mortgage platform, and other data to come up with a way to measure and track how difficult it is to qualify for a mortgage.
The index shows an abrupt and virtual evaporation of housing credit between 2008 and 2009. At the close of 2007, ZMAI stood at 97.8 points, but tumbled all the way to 28 points by the end of 2008. For the next four years, it showed no signs of credit conditions improving. It wasn’t until May 2013 when ZMAI again reached the 30-point threshold.
Other measures of credit access, like actual mortgage closing rates tracked by Ellie Mae, are not nearly as positive as the Zillow index. Closing rates on purchase loans reached an annual average of 63.3 percent from 60.1 percent in 2013. MBA’s mortgage credit availability index reached 118.6 in February. It has risen 118.6 points since it was benchmarked at 100 in March 2012.