According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, the number of Americans requesting applications for loans to buy homes rose again last week. The 7 percent improvement marks the third-consecutive week of gains and may be a good indication of an upcoming rise in home sales. “Purchase mortgage application volume last week increased to its highest level since July 2013, spurred on by still low mortgage rates and strengthening housing markets,” Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist, said. But, though mortgage rates remain historically low, the survey found a 3 percent decline in refinance activity last week. In fact, refinance activity fell to just 57 percent of total application demand, even as rates dropped across all loan categories. According to the survey, average mortgage rates were down on 30-year fixed rate loans with both conforming and jumbo balances, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.