The mortgage market is humming, but getting approved for a home loan is as difficult as it has been in years.
Mortgage credit availability, a measure of lenders’ willingness to issue mortgages, is near its lowest level since 2014, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, or MBA.
The tight lending environment illustrates a growing cleavage in the mortgage market: More home loans are being made than almost ever before, but they are going almost exclusively to borrowers with pristine credit histories and sizable down payments. Borrowers with credit qualifications that fall just outside the stellar category are finding fewer lenders willing to approve their applications. A segment of borrowers who would have qualified for a home loan early last year are now out of luck, deemed too much of a credit risk.
“Because mortgage credit is more difficult to obtain, it is a more competitive environment overall,” said Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.
About 70% of mortgages issued in 2020 went to borrowers with credit scores of at least 760, up from 61% in 2019, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.