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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. It also 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 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 a notable 15 basis points to 4.47% since last week. Purchase application volume increased 7% and refinance application volume increased 5% over the same period. As a result of Fed Chairman Bernanke's abrupt turnaround on the "tapering" issue, rates appear now to be pulling back notably after weeks of explosive increases that saw a rise of over 100 basis points.

The following charts show 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 - Sept. 25, 2013