While the application volume for home purchase loans in the U.S. increased 14 percent last week versus the week before, a typical seasonal move, the volume is down 17 percent year-over-year according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest survey.
While a lack of inventory is certain to be blamed for holding back applications, according to the National Association of Realtors’ own data, inventory levels are actually up on a year-over-year basis, with 1.86 million existing homes on the market at the end of December versus 1.82 million homes on the market at the end of 2012.

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