The standards lenders use to determine whether or not a borrower is approved for a mortgage aren't fixed. There are times when it's easier to qualify and times when it's more difficult. Because of this, the Mortgage Bankers Association tracks whether lending standards are loosening or tightening.
Their monthly Mortgage Credit Availability Index measures how easy it is for borrowers to get a mortgage based on several factors, including credit scores, loan types, and loan-to-value ratios. In May, the index fell slightly, indicating that lending standards have tightened from the month before.
Joel Kan, MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, says most of the tightening occurred for government and jumbo loans. “Last month's tightening was most notable in the government and jumbo segments of the mortgage market,” Kan said. “The decrease in government credit was driven mainly by a reduction in streamline refinance programs, as mortgage rates increased sharply through May, slowing refinance activity.” The index component measuring conventional loans fell less than 0.5 percent.