While housing and finance industry economists say they don't expect the real estate boom to turn to doom and gloom this year, they do say that the record run-up in housing prices and sales has run out of steam, and 2006 should be an above-normal year but probably won't make the record books. There is an asterisk for these predictions: How real estate investors react to this downturn could foil the forecast and potentially be devastating for the housing market and overall economy, economists said during an economic outlook presented Thursday by the Homeownership Alliance, a national coalition of housing and finance organizations. While housing has been an economic boost over the past several years, this year the housing market could be a slight drag on the national economy, the Homeownership Alliance economists generally agreed. "It's difficult to follow the strongest year ever," said David Lereah, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors trade group, which has about 1....
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