According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates increased last week after falling the week before. Mortgage rate increases were seen 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. The rate increase caused a drop in demand for mortgage loans, with both the refinance and purchase index falling from one-week earlier. Refinance activity, which is most sensitive to rate fluctuations, fell 5 percent, while purchase activity was down 4 percent. Despite the drop, however, demand for loans to buy homes is still much higher than last year at the same time. In fact, purchase application demand is 14 percent higher than the same week one year ago. And because purchase application demand is a good indicator of future home sales, the year-over-year improvement signals a strong first half of the year for home sales. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.