What A Difference A Year Makes

It takes a strong stomach to be a mortgage banker these days. In a business that's notoriously cyclical, the current downturn is shockingly severe. Interest rates this year have risen further--and faster--than almost anyone expected. As a result, demand for mortgage loans has plunged: the Mortgage Bankers Assn. estimates that the pace of lending today is down 45% from the first quarter.

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