Real estate loan applications fell last week, led by a drop-off in home purchases, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today in its weekly survey.

The market composite index, a measure of mortgage application volume, sank 2.5 percent, falling to 630.6 on a seasonally adjusted basis from 646.6 one week earlier.

The index that tracks home purchases fell 4.2 percent from the beginning of April, according to MBA, while the refinance index dipped 0.3 percent — its fifth consecutive weekly decrease.

Because of the considerable drop in purchase loans, the refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 43.6 percent of total applications from 42.8 percent the previous week, and the adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share decreased to 18.1 percent from 18.7 percent.

Borrowing costs across all loan types were up for the third straight week, with the average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rising to 6.22 percent from 6.16 percent, the 15-year fixed rate up from 5.91 percent to 5.92 percent, and the one-year ARM rate gaining from 5.88 percent to 5.89 percent.

Points, which are loan-processing fees expressed as a percent of the total loan amount, averaged 1.22 on the 30-year loans, 1.18 on the 15-year, and 0.7 on one-year ARMs. Statistics, which include the origination fee, are based on loan-to-value ratios of 80 percent.

The Mortgage Bankers Association survey covers approximately 50 percent of all U.S. retail residential mortgage originations, and has been conducted weekly since 1990. Respondents include mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts.

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