According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates dropped last week. The decline moved rates lower than they were at the same time last year. It also led to an increase in demand for mortgage loan applications. In fact, refinance activity was up 9 percent and purchase activity was up 2 percent. Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist, told CNBC the rebound was significant. “The refinance share is at its highest level since September,” Fratantoni said. “Purchase volume continues to be supported by a strengthening job market.” Despite expectations that rates would move higher this year, they’ve stayed relatively low – after a spike following last year’s presidential election. Next year, analysts expect higher rates again, though new economic policy may mean interest rates will be hard to forecast. Overall, average mortgage rates have remained historically low for several years now and are still well below what has typically been considered normal. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications. More here.