Mortgage applications and interest rates keep rising. Total applications were up 2.9% percent last week, on top of a 1.6% increase the week before. Applications for loans to buy homes were up 3%, as were applications to refinance existing mortgages. The Mortgage Bankers Association reports this morning that interest rates jumped nine basis points. The national average for a 30-year fixed-rate loan is up to 4.97 %. That's the highest in nearly eight and-a-half years.