Observers of the housing market can breathe a sigh of relief, with strong economic growth projected for 2006 and moderate growth in 2007, a mortgage banking group said in its long-term forecast released today.

The Mortgage Bankers Association is predicting growth of 3.5 percent in the gross domestic product for 2006, with moderate, below-trend growth of 3.3 percent in 2007, the group said

Total residential mortgage production in 2006 will be $2.24 trillion, the fifth-biggest year on record, but a 19.5 percent decrease from 2005.

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