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Mortgage applications fell last week as rates increased

Mortgage applications in the United States dropped last week as fewer Americans bought homes and refinanced properties.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index decreased 4.1 percent in the period ended Feb. 14, the Washington-based trade group reported Wednesday. The purchase gauge fell 6.3 percent, taking it to the lowest level since September 2011. The refinance measure declined 2.7 percent.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed loan advanced for the first time in seven weeks to reach 4.50 percent from 4.45 a week ago. The average rate on a 15-year mortgage increased to 3.55 percent from 3.49 percent in the prior period.

The share of applicants seeking to refinance was little changed at 61.2 percent compared with 61.5 percent the week earlier.

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