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MBA sees 2012 residential mortgage originations at 15-year low

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The Mortgage Bankers Association expects originations to come in around $931 billion next year, marking the lowest volume since 1997. The huge trade group also raised its estimate for residential mortgage origination volume in 2011 because of higher refinancing activity, and now expects total volume of $1.1 trillion this year, up about $100 billion from prior forecasts. But the weak economic data and political uncertainty of the past few weeks, led the MBA to lower its GDP growth estimates, as well. The group now expects GDP growth of 1.5% for 2011, down from a prior projection of 1.9%, and growth of 2.3% next year, down from 2.8% previously. GDP growth slowed to 1.3% in the second quarter. Still, MBA Chief Economist Jay Brinkmann said the group doesn't believe the economy faces the same types of risks as in 2008 despite the unprecedented events of the past month. He said the MBA also expects the unemployment rate to hover around 9% through 2012. "Were the U.S. economy to enter a recession, it would likely be the result of an external shock, and would be shallow and relatively brief," according to Brinkmann. "On the other hand, given that both fiscal and monetary policymakers' options are limited at this point, it would be difficult for policy changes to soften any blow." On Wednesday, the MBA said mortgage applications rose 4.1% last week, as homeowners continued to take advantage of historically low interest rates when refinancing. "Nothing in the housing market data suggests any significant change from our previous expectation of a frustratingly slow period with lackluster sales volumes," Brinkmann said. Write to Jason Philyaw. Follow him on Twitter: @jrphilyaw

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