Overall mortgage applications were up 1.8 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week before, as refinancing activity dropped for the first time since July, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today.

The seasonally adjusted purchase index increased by 3.7 percent to 389.7 from 375.9 the previous week, while the refinance index decreased by 0.9 percent to 1,594.7 from 1,609.2 one week earlier.

The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 41 percent of total applications from 41.5 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 26.2 percent of total applications from 26.8 percent the previous week, and is now at its lowest level since October 2003.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 6.31 percent from 6.39 percent, with points including the origination fee increasing to 1.1 from 1.03 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 decreased to 5.97 percent from 6.06 percent. Points including the origination fee increased to 1.14 from 1.06 for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans.

The average contract interest rate for one-year ARMs decreased to 5.91 percent from 5.97 percent, with points including the origination fee decreasing to 0.83 from 0.91 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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