A mortgage loan hasn’t been this hard to come by in over five years. And loans for low-credit or high-balance borrowers? Those are even rarer.
According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, overall mortgage availability fell 12.2% in April alone. It’s now at its lowest point since December 2014.
Conventional loan availability has dropped 15.2% since March, while government loan availability decreased by 9.5%. Jumbo loans–or those over $510,400 in most counties–fell the most in the conventional category, with the availability of these higher-balance loans falling nearly 23% across the month.
“The abrupt weakening of the economy and job market–and the uncertainty in the outlook–drove credit availability down in April for the second consecutive month,” says Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting at MBA. “The overall index fell to its lowest level since December 2014, and the sub-indexes pointed to tightened credit supply for all loan types.”
The across-the-board declines aren’t too much of a surprise. Lenders have been tightening their qualifying standards since the COVID-19 outbreak emerged, and according to Kan, some have dropped their low-credit-score and low-down-payment programs altogether. Many are also holding back in the high-balance and non-traditional borrower categories.
Though cash-out refinancing has remained a popular option in recent months–especially with many Americans struggling financially–these loans are becoming harder and harder to come by as well. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stopped purchasing many of these loans starting in mid-April, which likely plays a big role in their waning availability.