With the economy slowing faster than many economists had expected, mortgage rates have dipped to their lowest point since May 1999 and sparked an unexpected - and much needed - refinance boom.

Some observers, however, said the refinance wave will not last beyond spring. Mortgage lenders and banks should take advantage of the sudden escalation but not count on the business for the long term, they said. "It's a window of opportunity that will close probably sometime in the next three to six months," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com. "The Fed is going to start easing aggressively, the stock market is going to stabilize, and the economy is going to make it through this without experiencing a recession."

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