Sharp increase in demand for mortgages

30-year fixed-rate near 5% again

Applications for mortgages surged 17 percent last week as lower interest rates spurred demand for both refinance and purchase loans, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in releasing the results of its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.

Applications for refinancings were up 22.5 percent for the week ending Sept. 4, the largest increase since March, while an index measuring applications for purchase loans was up 9.5 percent from a week earliers. Both indexes are seasonally adjusted.