Normally, when mortgage rates drop more than half a point (as they have since mid-August) and applications to refinance nearly double (as they did last week), lenders would expect a big jump in refi production.

But in today's market, lenders are not counting on it. Underwriting guidelines are the tightest they have been in years. Several lenders said many of the people seeking refis do not qualify because they do not meet requirements for equity in the home, credit scores, documented income and assets, or manageable debt levels.

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