The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) estimated today that there was a 15 percent increase in applications for new home purchases in March compared to February even as the annual pace of new home sales eased. MBA's Builder Application Survey (BAS) which tracks mortgage application volume from mortgage subsidiaries of home builders, indicated that sales of new single-family homes were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 479,000 units in March, a decrease of 10.1 percent from the February estimate of 533,000 units.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis MBA estimates sales for the month at 46,000 units.  This is an increase of 7.0 percent from the estimated 43,000 sales reported in February.

Conventional loans made up 68.3 percent of new home purchase applications and FHA-backed mortgages accounted for 17.2 percent.  VA loans comprised 12.9 percent and 1.6 percent were Rural Housing Services/USDA loans.  The average size of a new home loan increased from $295,008 in February to $296,428 in March.

MBA derives its sales figures from mortgage application information gathered through the BAS and assumptions about market coverage and other factors.   Official new home sales estimates are conducted by the Census Bureau on a monthly basis.  In that data, new home sales are recorded at contract signing, which is typically coincident with the mortgage application.  The MBA estimates the coverage for the BAS is almost 30 percent of the new home sales market.