Existing-home sales should reach a record 6.5 million this year, a 5.7 percent increase over last year's record 6.1 million sales, the National Association of Realtors reported today in its latest monthly forecast for the year. Meanwhile, new-home sales are expected to rise to a record 1.16 million, or 7.1 percent higher than last year's numbers. And housing starts are forecast to increase 4.8 percent to 1.94 million in 2004, the strongest pace since 1978. This existing-home sales forecast represents a slight improvement over last month's forecast, which called for 6.45 million existing-home sales this year. This month's new-home sales forecast for the year is down slightly from last month's forecast, which estimated that new-home sales would reach 1.2 million this year. David Lereah, chief economist for the national association, said in an announcement today that a continued decline in mortgage interest rates is creating favorable market conditions at a time when household formation ...
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