The rate of serious delinquent mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) remained flat from June to July; however, the gross number of mortgages that are either 90 or more days past due or in foreclosure increased 31.5% from the same period a year ago. This succeeds a year-over-year increase of 35% in the volume of seriously delinquent mortgages in June. According to the FHA, July single-family operations report, the total volume of mortgage insurance in-force increased 23.5% to 6.5 million in July compared with the same month one year ago. The total value of unpaid FHA mortgages was $873.5 billion, up 35% from $647.3 billion one year ago and up 0.9% from $865.5 billion in June. With that increase came a rise in serious delinquencies, 7.8% last year, compared to 8.3% in June. The gross serious delinquencies of 540,512 in July jumped up from 532,757 in June. Year-to-date for the FHA fiscal year, the administration paid 239,747 claims insurance -- 145,826 were for loss mitigation and 77,815 were for property conveyances. The FHA received 173,068 applications for insurance, down 26% from one year ago, but up 2.5% from June. The volume of mortgage refinance applications exceeded the volume of mortgage purchase applications in July for the first time in six months, representing 51% of total application volume. The July application pool included 80,396 purchase transactions, 83,711 refinances cases and 8,961 home equity conversion mortgage (HECM, or reverse mortgage) applications. Of the refinance applications, 37,507 of the applicants were trying to refinance an existing FHA loan, while 46,204 were conventional mortgages converting to FHA loans. There were 46 Hope for Homeowner cases that were part of the refinances. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Disclosure: The author holds no relevant investments.