Mortgage applications to purchase homes increased 7.4 percent last week on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to the previous week. This was the highest level since October 2009, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly report.

On an unadjusted basis, purchase applications rose 8.5 percent compared with the previous week and were up 2.4 percent from the same week a year ago. The increase was driven by applications to purchase homes using government-guaranteed loans. About half of all sales were backed by the government, particularly the Federal Housing Administration, the MBA said.

Purchase activity continues to increase as we approach the end of the home buyer tax credit program, said Michael Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics.

The increase came despite rising interest rates:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 5.08 percent from 5.04 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.38 percent from 4.34 percent.
  • 1-year ARMs increased to 7.03 percent from 6.95 percent.