Growth in the first quarter of 2013 picked up after a slow fourth quarter in 2012 as a result of strong inventory investment, retail sales and less of a drag from the trade deficit, according to the Mortgage Banker's Association's latest outlook.

Commercial and multifamily mortgage originations increased 49% between the third and fourth quarters of 2012, and were also up 49% compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. 

In February, MBA forecasted that originations will rise by 11% from 2012 levels. 

The level of commercial/multifamily mortgage debt outstanding increased by $21.8 billion, or 0.9%, in 4Q12, as all four major investor groups increased their holdings. 

Additionally, the fourth quarter posted the largest increase in commercial and multifamily mortgage debt outstanding since 2008. 

Meanwhile, mortgage rates are expected to rise from 3.6% in the first quarter of 2013 to 4.3% by the fourth quarter of this year, the MBA said.

Additionally, mortgage originations will decline to $1.4 trillion in 2013 as rates rise and refinance originations fall. 

The forecast is based on expectations of a modest increase in economic growth in 2013 relative to 2012.

"The U.S. economy recorded lackluster economic growth during the fourth quarter, but commercial real estate markets continued their trend of slow and steady revival," the report stated.