August 3, 2011 / 11:03 AM / 7 years ago

Mortgage applications rose last week: MBA

A real estate for sale sign is displayed outside a home in Chandler Heights, Arizona June 2, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Applications for U.S. home mortgages rose last week as interest rates fell, an industry group said on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, rose 7.1 percent in the week ended July 29.

The MBA’s seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications rose 7.8 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases rose 5.1 percent.

“Factors such as negative equity and a weak job market continue to constrain borrowers,” Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics, said in a statement.

While purchase activity increased last week, it remained low by historical standards, he said.

Even though 30-year mortgage rates are back below 4.5 percent, the refinance index stands at still almost 30 percent below last year’s level, Fratantoni pointed out.

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.45 percent in the week ending July 29, down 12 basis points from the week before.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 70.1 percent of total applications from 69.6 percent the week before.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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