Home lending at most large and regional banks soared in the first quarter and loan pipelines are bulging heading into the second quarter, early signs that 2015 could be a strong year for the housing market.

Falling interest rates in January and February sparked a flurry of refinancing activity, while home buying finally picked up steam in March, the start of the spring selling season. With low rates tempting more home owners to refinance and relaxed down payment requirements spurring more home sales, bankers are more optimistic about mortgage lending than they have been in some time.

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