WASHINGTON — Although Federal Housing Administration-backed loans showed a downward trickle last year, federal mortgage insurance still makes up a sizable chunk of the housing market, according to new government data published Tuesday.

According to updated information reported to the bank regulators under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, FHA loans made up 31% of the market last year. While that was 5 percentage points less than in 2010 and 6 points less than in 2009, it still reflects heightened interest in the FHA following the crisis. The FHA's share in 2007 was only 7%, which then grew to 26% in 2008.

"The 2011 HMDA data reflect a continued heavy reliance on loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance that began several years ago with the onset of problems in the mortgage market," said the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, which releases the data. (The council is made up of five federal agencies and one member representing state banking regulators.)

The report also showed continued interest in loans backed by the Veterans Administration. The market share for VA loans rose about 1 percentage point in 2011, to 8%, versus just 3% in 2007.

Refinancing through the VA grew sharply, rising 41% last year. Meanwhile, conventional and FHA-backed refinancing fell by about 12% and 37%.

Similar to previous HMDA reports, the agencies said black and Hispanic borrowers experienced higher rates of loan denials than non-Hispanic white applicants.

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