Houston is more than an oil town these days, but an oil company merger is being blamed for knocking it off the list of the hottest home-lending markets.

No one expects a repeat of the early 1980s, when plummeting oil prices hammered Houston's economy, including its banks. But lenders say layoffs due to last year's merger of Amoco with British Petroleum are what pushed the city to 25th place in the Mortgage Bankers Association ranking, from fourth last year.

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