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The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates mortgage originations will fall to $900 billion in 2012. The MBA previously estimated originations to reach $1.2 trillion next year. Then in August, the trade group said new loans would total $931 billion, the lowest level since 1997. The MBA released an even lower limit at the association's annual conference, now under way in Chicago. "Purchase volume will stay low as home sales in 2012 remain little changed from 2011, and as home prices begin to grow by the end of 2012," MBA Chief Economist Jay Brinkmann told a group of reporters at the annual conference in Chicago Tuesday. The MBA even expects refinancing to show a significant decline despite the Obama administration's plans to pull more borrowers into lower rates. Brinkmann said he did not forecast for possible administraion changes, including adjustments to the the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP. "It's hard to forecast a plan that is still under debate," Brinkmann said. He added the overall economy will show "anemic growth" in 2012 then begin to accelerate in 2013. Uncertainty in Europe and ineffective actions from Washington could drag the economy back into recession. But not all is grim. "The uncertainty is not one-sided," Brinkmann said. "We also see a path for the economy that could lead to above trend growth in 2012. Housing inventory and shadow inventory is declining steadily. A more robust housing market recovery could spur faster overall growth." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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