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Economist: Expect home-price weakness to persist

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WASHINGTON -- With the economy on the mend, home sales could bounce back to their historical levels by 2012, although the bulging foreclosure pipeline is likely to keep prices in check, economist Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics told Realtors holding their annual midyear meeting in the nation's capital.Zandi said he expects sales of new and existing homes to grow from between 5.5 million and 6 million this year to between 6 million and 6.5 million next year, and hit about 7 million in 2012.That would put home sales back on their historic trend line. But Zandi said that when it comes to home prices, "the coast is not quite clear."With the foreclosure pipeline full -- Moody's estimates that 4.3 million out of approximately 50 milllion first mortgages are in foreclosure or overdue by 90 days or more -- Zandi expects further price weakness for the next six to 12 months and no real price growth through 2012.Although loan modifications could help about half of homeowners facing fore...