While the real estate market has experienced a strong surge in refinance transactions in recent years, an economist at government-sponsored enterprise Fannie Mae and the head of mortgage software provider Ellie Mae this week touted an increase in purchase mortgage applications in the past few months.

Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, upped his forecast for loan originations at the start of the year by 8 percent, noting that “purchase mortgage applications have moved up consistently for a couple of months.”

Duncan said he expects “moderate but broad-based improvement” this year and predicted there will be $759 billion worth of loan originations for those buying single-family homes.

Elsewhere in the mortgage industry, Ellie Mae released its latest Origination Insight Report, which found that purchase loans as a percentage of lenders’ overall mortgage volume rose 52 percent in April, a 6 percent jump since March.

“An improving economy and ongoing attractive rates seem to be contributing to the rise in purchase percentage as we move full speed into the spring buying season,” said Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae.

Email Amy Swinderman.

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