Blog 20817Mortgage rates have been wavering in a tight range for the past month, but a slight decrease last week helped put some energy back into the mortgage market.

Total mortgage application volume rose 2.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Applications, however, are still running a stark 23 percent below year-ago levels, due to a massive drop in loan refinancing.

Mortgage applications to refinance home loans increased 2 percent for the week, seasonally adjusted, but are 40 percent lower than a year ago. That’s because rates are higher than one year ago, and so many borrowers have already refinanced to near record-low rates that the pool of potential refinancers is shrinking.

 The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($424,000 or less) decreased to 4.35 percent from 4.39 percent, with points remaining unchanged at 0.34 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value-ratio loans. The average rate in the same week last year was a full 44 basis points lower, at 3.91 percent.