RiskSpan’s Vintage Quality Index is a monthly measure of the relative risk profile of Agency mortgages. Higher VQI levels are associated with mortgage vintages containing higher-than-average percentages of loans with one or more “risk layers.”

These risk layers, summarized below, reflect the percentage of loans with low FICO scores (below 660), high loan-to-value ratios (above 80%), high debt-to-income ratios (above 45%), adjustable rate features, subordinate financing, cash-out refis, investment properties, multi-unit properties, and loans with only one borrower.

The RiskSpan VQI rose 4.2 points at the end of 2020, reflecting a modest increase in the risk profile of loans originated during the fourth quarter relative to the early stages of the pandemic.

The first rise in the index since February was driven by modest increases across several risk layers. These included cash-out refinances (up 2.5% to a 20.2% share in December), single borrower loans (up 1.8% to 52.0%) and investor loans (up 1.4% to 6.0%). Still, the December VQI sits more than 13 points below its local high in February 2020, and more than 28 points below a peak seen in January 2019.

While the share of cash-out refinances has risen some from these highs, the risk layers that have driven most of the downward trend in the overall VQI – percentage of loans with low FICO scores and high LTV and DTI ratios – remain relatively low. These layers have been trending downward for a number of years now, reflecting a tighter credit box, and the pandemic has only exacerbated tightening.

Population assumptions:

  • Monthly data for Fannie Mae and Freddie
  • Loans originated more than three months prior to issuance are excluded because the index is meant to reflect current market
  • Loans likely to have been originated through the HARP program, as identified by LTV, MI coverage percentage, and loan purpose, are also These loans do not represent credit availability in the market as they likely would not have been originated today but for the existence of HARP.

Data assumptions:

  • Freddie Mac data goes back to 12/2005. Fannie Mae only back to 12/2014.
  • Certain fields for Freddie Mac data were missing prior to 6/2008.
  • GSE historical loan performance data release in support of GSE Risk Transfer activities was used to help back-fill data where it was missing.

This analysis is developed using RiskSpan’s Edge Platform. To learn more or see a free, no-obligation demo of Edge’s unique data and modeling capabilities, please contact us.