According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates fell to their lowest level since May 2013 last week, sending demand for mortgage applications soaring. In fact, the Market Composite Index – which measures total mortgage loan application volume – was up 49.1 percent from the week before, the largest weekly gain since 2008. Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist, said the economy and job market continue to show signs of strength, but weakness abroad and falling oil prices have led to continued declines in long-term interest rates. In addition to positive economic news and historically low rates, Fratantoni said prospective home buyers also benefit from recent evidence that credit is becoming more available and news that the FHA is lowering mortgage insurance premiums. Last week, average mortgage rates fell across all loan categories, including 30-year fixed-rate loans with both conforming and jumbo balances, FHA-backed loans, and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. The drop led to a doubling of refinance activity and a 24 percent increase in purchase demand. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.