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Total mortgage application volume grew 5.5 percent the week of November 19 over the previous week, but was down 16 percent annually.

The latest from the Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally adjusted index includes an adjustment to account for the Thanksgiving holiday; applications to buy a home drove overall volume up with a 9 percent increase week-over-week, and two percent annual growth. Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the MBA, tells CNBC, "The rise in purchase activity was led by conventional purchase applications, while government purchases were essentially unchanged over the week," adding, "This also pushed the average loan size for purchase applications higher, which likely meant there were fewer first-time homebuyers in the market last week."

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) decreased to 5.12 percent from 5.16 percent, with points decreasing to 0.46 from 0.48 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20 percent down payment. Refinance demand responded, rising 1 percent from the previous week. Refinance volume was still 35 percent lower than the same week one year ago, when interest rates were nearly a full percentage point lower.

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