Mortgage applications for both home purchases and refinances fell last week, with refinancing dropping to its lowest share of total activity in 10 months.

Refinance applications fell a seasonally adjusted 8 percent, according to this morning's weekly report from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Purchase applications were down a seasonally adjusted 4 percent, but were running 6 percent higher than the same week one year ago.

Refinancing made up 75 percent of all mortgage applications, their smallest share of total applications since May 2012. The share of refinances as a percentage of total applications has now fallen for 10 consecutive weeks as mortgage rates have moved off their historic lows since the beginning of the year.

HARP share increases; FHA/VA declines

Applications for refinancing under the federally backed HARP program for low-equity and underwater mortgages made up 31 percent of all refinance applications, up from 30 percent last week.

Meanwhile, the share of purchase mortgages sought through government programs, such as the FHA or VA, fell to its lowest level since January 2009, at 33 percent of purchase applications.

Little movement on rates

Overall, mortgage rates held fairly steady last week, with average rates on both 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate loans rising only a single basis point. The average on 30-year mortgages was 3.82 percent, while 15-year mortgages averaged 3.02 percent. A basis point equals 0.01 percentage points.

Average rates on 30-year FHA fixed-rate mortgages were unchanged at 3.53 percent, while the average on 30-year jumbo mortgages (loan amounts in excess of $417,500) rose to 3.95 percent from 3.90 percent the week before.

Meanwhile, the average initial rate on 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) fell to 2.59 percent from 2.62 percent the week before. All figures are for mortgages with an 80 percent loan-to-value ratio.

Published on March 20, 2013