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Mortgage originations down 35% in first quarter

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Mortgage originations in the first quarter fell 35% to $325 billion, breaking three consecutive periods of growth and threatening to plunge the market back to 2000 levels, according to a report from Inside Mortgage Finance. The first-quarter drop is the worst experienced since the onset of the recession when mortgage originations plummeted 31.5%, according to a new research report from Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland researchers Yuliya Demyanyk and Matthew Koepke. The same report cites Mortgage Bankers Association projections which estimates mortgage originations could fall to $1.05 trillion in 2011, the lowest level in 11 years. The report blames a decline in refinancings for the dip in originations. Since refinancings generally contribute to higher origination activity, a drop-off in that segment negatively impacts originations as a whole. The Cleveland Fed Bank report concludes that the only way around declining activity in the refinance segment would be to generate more activity in new home originations—a development the report doesn't foresee when considering the current lull in home starts and the state of the overall housing market. Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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