The figures came against the backdrop of a 16-day U.S. federal government shutdown in the first half of the month. The potential economic damage from the shutdown fueled views that the U.S. Federal Reserve will maintain its bond-buying program for longer than previously thought to prop up the economy. The Fed is currently buying $85 billion per month in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.
MBA data showed 30-year mortgage rates edged down 6 basis points to 4.33 percent, the lowest rate since June. The refinancing index rose 8.7 percent. The gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, rose 2.3 percent.
The mortgage survey covers over 75 percent of U.S. retail residential mortgage applications, according to MBA.
(Read more: What pending homes plunge means for the recovery)