Overall mortgage applications tumbled 1.4 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week before, as refinancings fell for the third consecutive week, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today.

The seasonally adjusted purchase index increased slightly to 395.6 from 395.5 the previous week whereas the refinance index decreased by 3.8 percent to 1,356 from 1,409 one week earlier. Other than a brief dip in December 2005, the refinance index is at its lowest level since April 2002, according to the MBA.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 34.2 percent of total applications from 34.9 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate-mortgage share of activity decreased to 29.4 percent of total applications from 30.7 percent the previous week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 6.6 percent from 6.66 percent, with points including the origination fee increasing to 1.19 from 1.03 for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

Points, which are fees charged by lenders for loan processing, are equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.23 percent from 6.22 percent. Points including the origination fee decreased to 1.16 from 1.18 for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

The average contract interest rate for one-year adjustable-rate mortgages decreased to 6.05 percent from 6.09 percent, with points including the origination fee increasing to 0.86 from 0.83 for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

Washington, D.C.-based Mortgage Bankers Association is a national association representing the real estate finance industry. The 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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