With home values plummeting and consumer confidence weakening by the month, the volume of mortgage loan originations in 2008 fell below $2 trillion for the first time in any year this decade. But National Mortgage News, a U.S. Banker affiliate, is projecting that volume will increase sharply this year as historically low interest rates draw buyers back into the market.

In 2008, dollar volume of loan originations declined by nearly 37 percent from a year earlier, to $1.75 trillion, according to National Mortgage News data. Among the top 25 lenders - which control 77 percent of the mortgage market-total origination volume fell 36 percent, to $1.35 trillion, from 2007.

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