What’s contributing to this good behavior? It’s no secret: Since 2010, stricter federal underwriting rules imposed on the mortgage industry have banned some of the lending industry’s previous worst habits, and required them to screen out high-risk borrowers, essentially limiting their customer base to people who can truly afford the mortgages they’re seeking.

In the conventional market, that’s why Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the country’s two largest sources of mortgage money, have kept their average FICO credit scores near a relatively pristine 750, well above levels typical before the financial crisis. (FICO scores run from 300 to 850,

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