Despite lingering affordability concerns, Americans remain interested in buying a home. In fact, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, demand for loans to buy homes is now 7 percent higher than at the same time last year. That means, potential home shoppers still see buying opportunities even while for-sale inventory remains low and home prices continue to rise. Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, credits some of that interest to mortgage rates that remain well below this year’s average. And though rates did increase last week – rising across all loan categories, including 30-year fixed-rate loans with both conforming and jumbo balances, loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, and 15-year fixed-rate loans – their recent downward trend has kept them well below where they were even a few months ago. That has helped affordability and boosted buyer interest. The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications.