The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) is a number which measures credit access, meaning how easy or hard it is for a person to get a mortgage loan. The lower the number, the harder it is to get a loan. This number currently is well below pre-pandemic levels. The index gained 0.8 percent to a 125.9 reading in December. A decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of loosening credit. The December reading was the highest since March 2020. The index began a precipitous eight-month slide in February 2020 as lenders tightened underwriting in anticipation of a COVID-19 induced housing crises. The index stabilized in the summer of 2020 but has not improved significantly since then.