New data from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows the number of mortgage applications for new home purchases increased 0.3 percent in April from the month before. Though relatively flat month-over-month, Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist, says the spring season got off to an earlier than usual start this year. “Applications were essentially flat in April, but March and April builder applications were at their highest levels since we began tracking them in August 2012. On a year-over-year basis, applications to builders for new home mortgages were up 16 percent,” Fratantoni said. “Although our survey indicates there was likely a slight decrease in new home sales in April, we had seen increased activity earlier in the year, so borrowers who were able to enter the market got a head start on the traditional spring buying season.” By type of loan, conventional mortgages made up the largest share of applications, totaling a full 67 percent of all applications. Also, the average loan size of new homes reached its highest level in survey history, increasing from $314,394 in March to $315,670 in April. More here.