Despite a sixth straight week of increased refinancing activity, overall mortgage applications dipped 0.9 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week before, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today.

The seasonally adjusted purchase index fell for a third straight week — down 1.6 percent to 375.9 from 382.2 the previous week — and is now at its lowest level since November 2003. The refinance index, however, edged up to 1,609.2 from 1,608.5 one week earlier, and has been positive in each of the last six weeks.

The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 41.5 percent of total applications from 40.6 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 26.8 percent of total applications from 26.4 percent the previous week.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.39 percent from 6.38 percent, with points including the origination fee rising to 1.03 from 0.98 for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

Points, which are fees charged by lenders for loan processing, are expressed as a percent of the total loan amount.

The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.06 percent from 6.04 percent, with points including the origination fee decreasing to 1.06 from 1.12 for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

The average contract interest rate for one-year ARMs increased to 5.97 percent from 5.91 percent. Points including the origination fee increased to 0.91 from 0.82 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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