According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates fell last week and helped boost demand for both refinance and purchase loan applications. The decline, though slight, keeps rates in the same narrow range they’ve been for the past several weeks. Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist, told CNBC lower-than-normal mortgage rates continue to bring buyers to the market. “With rates trading in a narrow range, the purchase market continues to show strength, with application volume running about 7 percent ahead of last year,” Fratantoni said. Also helping prospective home buyers is the increasing availability of credit. This week, the MBA released their monthly measure of credit availability and found that lending standards continued to loosen in July. Combined with still-low mortgage rates, increasing credit availability helps home buyers and offers some relief from rising home prices. Of course, affordability concerns will persist but low mortgage rates and available credit can help home buyers balance some of the worry over handling higher home prices. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.