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The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) publishes the results of a weekly applications survey that covers roughly 50% of all residential mortgage originations, and tracks the average interest rate for 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages as well as the volume of both purchase and refinance applications. The purchase application index has been highlighted as a particularly important data series as it very broadly captures the demand side of residential real estate for both new- and existing-home purchases.

The latest data is showing that the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (from FHA and conforming GSE data) declined 2 basis points to 3.65% since last week, while the purchase application volume increased 7% and the refinance application volume increased 8% over the same period. The following chart shows the average interest rate for 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages since 2006 as well as the purchase, refinance and composite loan volumes.

Source: Reading Rates: MBA Application Survey - March 27, 2013