The Market Composite Index, an overall measure of mortgage applications, rose from 647.6 to 721.2 on a seasonally adjusted basis during the week ended Dec. 8 as refinancing jumped to a high not seen since September of last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey."The substantial decline in mortgage rates over the past six months, greater than 80 basis points in total, has led to a significant increase in refinance activity. Additionally, we are seeing a steady increase in purchase applications," said Mike Fratantoni, senior economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market index was at a high not seen since October 2005 and the purchase index was at a level not seen since January of this year, according to the MBA. On an unadjusted basis, applications increased 10.2% compared with the previous week and were up 22.2% compared with the same week one year earlier. Refinancings represented 52.6% of applications, remaining at a high not seen since April 2004. This represented an increase from 50.1% the previous week. Adjustable-rate mortgages accounted for 24.9% of apps, the MBA said. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.02% from 5.98% and points (including the origination fee) rose to 1 from 0.91 for loans with 80% loan-to-value ratios, the association reported.

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