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As high mortgage rates continue to hamper homebuyers in the real estate market, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reports that mortgage applications have fallen to their lowest point since 1996 during the week ending Sept. 8.

Even for those buyers who can manage today’s 7% rates, finding available housing remains a significant challenge, according to High borrowing costs have led to minimal refinance activity, and homeowners are wary of selling and then having to buy a new home at a higher rate.

“Mortgage applications decreased for the seventh time in eight weeks,” MBA Deputy Chief Economist Joel Kan says in a statement. “Given how high rates are right now, there continues to be minimal refinance activity and a reduced incentive for homeowners to sell and buy a new home at a higher rate.”

“I’ve never seen it this bad,” says mortgage broker Richard Bettencourt who has been in the business for more than 20 years. He’s the president of Veteran Mortgage Brokers based in the Boston suburb of Danvers, MA.

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