According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Applications Survey, average mortgage rates rose last week but the increase didn’t stop home buyers. In fact, demand for purchase loan applications rose 1 percent and reached their highest level in 9 years. Requests for loans to buy homes are now 7 percent higher than at the same time last year. Despite the improvement, however, overall mortgage application demand was down from the week before, as refinance activity was slowed by higher rates. Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said the decline is no surprise. “With mortgage rates up for the second week in a row, it’s no surprise that refinancings slid 8 percent, and average loan sizes dropped back closer to normal levels,” Kan said. “Purchase activity remained strong and increased slightly, reaching its highest level since 2010. The spring buying season continues to be robust.” The MBA’s weekly survey has been conducted since 1990 and covers 75 percent of all retail residential mortgage applications.