The number of borrowers looking to refinance their mortgage rose last week for the third straight time.
The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday its refinance index increased 7.7 percent from the previous week. Overall, the mortgage applications index rose 5 percent this week.
But the number of people applying for a mortgage to buy a home fell 1.9 percent.
Rates on fixed mortgages were mixed, the survey said. The average rate for the 30-year fixed loan slipped to 4.77 percent from 4.78 percent. The rate on the 15-year mortgage, a popular refinance option, rose to 4.16 percent from 4.15 percent.
Still, fixed mortgage rates are about a half-point higher than in November. They have risen as Treasury yields increased on improved economic data. Investors tend to seek safer investments like Treasury bonds in rockier times.
Mortgage rates track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.
The Mortgage Bankers Association's survey covers more than 50 percent of all applications nationwide.