NEW YORK U.S. applications to buy a home reached their highest level in about seven years last week as mortgage rates fell to their lowest levels since late 2016, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday.
The Washington-based group's seasonally adjusted index on mortgage requests for home purchases rose 10 percent to 261.9 in the week ended June 2. That was the highest since 263.6 in the week of May 2, 2010.
The jump in purchase loan applications raised the prospects of a possible rebound in home sales, which have weakened the past couple of months due to tight inventories.
Interest rates on conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 4.14 percent, the lowest since the week of Nov. 11, from 4.17 percent the prior week.
Conforming loans are those with balances of $424,100 or less which qualify for guarantees from federal mortgage agencies Fannie Mae (FNMA.PK) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.PK).
Average rates on other types of 30-year loans the MBA tracks were 0.02 to 0.03 percentage point lower than the preceding week.
Home borrowing costs have fallen in step with bond yields as recent data raised doubts whether inflation would climb to the Federal Reserve's 2 percent goal in the foreseeable future.
The drop in mortgage rates also revived activity in mortgage refinancing.
MBA's seasonally adjusted gauge of applications to refinance an existing home loan rose 3.4 percent last week to 1,368.7.
The group's seasonally adjusted index of total mortgage applications increased 7.1 percent to 430.6, its strongest level since the week of Nov. 18.
The share of refinancing slipped to 42.1 percent of total applications from last week's 43.2 percent.
For a graphic on U.S. mortgages, click here
(Reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by W Simon and Meredith Mazzilli)