Mortgage loan applications increased 13.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications survey.

The number of refinancings increased the most: The Refinance Index increased 17.8 percent compared to the previous week. Overall, the refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 65.7 percent of total applications.

Meanwhile, the Purchase Index increased 5.1 percent compared to the week prior.

“Ongoing turmoil in the Middle East brought interest rates lower last week,” says Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics. “Borrowers took advantage of these lower rates, bringing application activity back near levels from two weeks ago, following sharp declines last week.”

Last week, the average interest rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5 percent from 5.12 percent the week prior.

Source: “Mortgage Applications Increase,” RISMedia (Feb. 24, 2011)

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