The standards lenders use to determine whether or not a borrower is approved for a loan aren't fixed. That means there are times when it's easier to get a mortgage and times when it's more difficult. Because of this, the Mortgage Bankers Association tracks mortgage credit availability from month to month. An increase in the MBA's index indicates that standards are loosening, while a decline means they've tightened. According to the most recent results, mortgage credit availability tightened in April. Joel Kan, MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, says the decline was mostly due to changes in refinance activity. “With the rate/term refinance business drying up, lenders have reduced the availability of government streamline refinancing programs, which are no longer as relevant of an option for many borrowers,” Kan said. This led to a 6.5 percent decline in the component measuring credit availability for government loans. Components measuring conventional loans, on the other hand, rose slightly from the month before.