Purchase applications for home mortgages fell a seasonally adjusted 1 percent in the May 26 week, the third consecutive weekly decline which put the unadjusted purchase index 7 percent higher than the year ago level. Refinancing applications fell 6 percent, paring back an 11 percent increase in the prior week. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased by 0.7 percentage points to 43.2 percent. The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate conforming mortgages ($424,000 or less) remained unchanged at 4.17 percent. Home buyers have definitely slackened their pace in the last 3 weeks, deepening doubts about the continuation of the robust strength of the housing market in the first quarter after disappointing data for April, with housing starts down 2.6 percent and existing home sales down 2.3 percent month-on-month. Also worrisome is that the 3-week slowdown comes despite a drop in mortgage rates to the lowest level since November. Nonetheless, the 7 percent year-on-year gain in the purchase index, a widening by 4 percentage points from the prior week, is quite encouraging.