Overall mortgage applications rose 11.9 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week before, taken higher by a strong increase in refinancings, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today.

The seasonally adjusted refinance index increased by 17.5 percent last week to 1,970.8 from 1,677.5 the previous week, boosting the refinance share of mortgage activity to 46.7 percent of total applications — the highest since February 2005.

“Refinance applications continue to increase as mortgage rates have declined to their lowest levels since the beginning of the year,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s senior director, single-family research and economics.

The purchase index increased by 7.6 percent last week, rising to 404.6 from 375.9 one week earlier.

The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 27 percent of total applications from 26.4 percent the previous week, MBA reported.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.24 percent from 6.18 percent, with points including the origination fee decreasing to 1.03 from 1.06 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 5.86 percent from 5.81 percent. Points including the origination fee decreased to 1 from 1.12 for 80 percent loan-to-value-ratio loans.

The average contract interest rate for one-year ARMs decreased to 5.86 percent from 5.9 percent, with points including the origination fee holding at 0.79 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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