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Hot real estate market will carry into ’05

Trade group credits continued low rates

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Home sales momentum will continue through the remainder of 2004 and into next year, the National Association of Realtors forecast today at its annual conference and expo in Orlando, Fla. Existing-home sales are projected to rise 7.3 percent this year to 6.55 million compared with the previous record of 6.1 million in 2003, according to NAR. The group also expects 6.3 million existing-home sales in 2005, which would be the second highest on record. New-home sales this year will surpass the previous record of 1.09 million in 2003 with sales rising 7.7 percent to 1.17 million. A total of 1.07 million new-home sales are predicted for 2005. NAR forecasts housing starts in 2004 to total 1.93 million, up from 1.85 million last year. Housing construction in 2005 should come in at about 1.84 million units. The strong forecast comes from a steady decline in mortgage interest rates since June, when Freddie Mac reported the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.29 percent. "At the beginning of ...