CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Doug Duncan, chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association, has a knack for making people feel secure and optimistic about housing's future. The key to understanding house prices, Duncan said at a real estate journalism conference Saturday, is population movement and jobs. "The housing market is normalizing," Duncan said, predicting that purchase mortgage originations this year will be back at levels seen in 2003. House-price growth will slow to 6-7 percent, he said, and price appreciation may fall in some local markets but will rise nationally. Duncan's 2006 forecast released at the end of 2005 calls for 6.79 million existing-home sales and 1.22 million new-home sales this year with the median price for existing homes at $218,100 and the median price for new home...
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