Prospective home buyers and refinancers submitted 4.4% more applications in the week ending July 31, according to a survey published Wednesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Total application volume is 18% higher than the same time last year on an unadjusted basis, although a different survey is showing household activity on the decline this week. Refinance applications alone increased 7.2% from the previous week, bringing the refi share of total applications to 54.2% from 52.6%. The MBA noted the index measuring refinance applications is up 35% from its recent low at the end of June, although it remains well below recent highs. The MBA reported lower interest rates this week alongside the application data, indicating higher refinance interest goes in-hand with decreased rates. Despite the weekly gain in total applications, a separate application index saw the number of households submitting applications retreat this week. A survey conducted by Mortgage Maxx found that household activity fell 8.5% the same week ending July 31. The mortgage application index -- or MAX -- adjusts raw application data to count multiple submissions from within a single household as one mortgage applicant. The index found activity in California alone fell 10.2%. MAX publisher, Paul Descloux, in his commentary on the index, has long warned the costs and fees associated with refinancings would outweigh the financial benefit for many borrowers, perhaps accounting for the drop-off from recent refi popularity. "The MAX plumbs new lows for the year as reality meets green shoots," he writes. "The multivariate attack on mortgage consumer demand appears to have won over the current ‘all’s clear’ rhetoric. With the refinance incentive lukewarm in absolute terms and qualifying decidedly antagonistic, homeowners [are] still playing defense." Write to Diana Golobay.