According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, the number of prospective home buyers requesting applications for loans to buy homes has risen four of the past five weeks. Last week, the seasonally adjusted purchase index was up 5 percent from the week before and 16 percent above last year’s level. Because the purchase index is a good indicator of future home sales, the gains are a good sign for the spring housing market. After a slow first quarter, many analysts have forecasted a strong spring for home sales and an increase in purchase application demand could be an early sign that they’re right. Also in the report, average mortgage rates fell across all loan categories, including 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with both conforming and jumbo balances, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Despite favorable rates, however, refinance activity was only up 1 percent from the previous week. The MBA’s weekly survey covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications and has been conducted since 1990. More here.