The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index increased 0.5 percent in July. The increase, which indicates that lending standards are loosening and mortgage credit is becoming easier to obtain, is a good sign for the residential real-estate market, as credit availability means more prospective home buyers will be approved for loans. Despite the continuing improvement, however, the MBA’s Weekly Applications Survey – which tracks demand for mortgage applications – fell 2.7 percent last week from the previous week. The drop was mainly due to refinancing activity dropping 4 percent following a 4 percent increase the week before. Mortgage rates also decreased last week, falling across most loan categories – including 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo balances, those backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year fixed-rate loans. Rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans with conforming balances were unchanged from the week before. The Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and includes 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications.