U.S. Realtors Anticipate Record Home Sales In 2003

By Agence France-Presse The number of U.S. home sales will shatter previous records in 2003, boosted by rock-bottom mortgage rates and a tight supply, the realtors' industry forecast July 8. Existing home sales would rise 2.9% to a record 5.73 million while new home sales surge 3.1% to an unprecedented 1 million, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said. Last year's figures were already at record highs for both existing and new home sales. "Lower-than-expected mortgage interest rates have brought more buyers into the housing market, offsetting sluggish economic growth and weakness in the labor markets," NAR chief economist David Lereah said. "Mortgage interest rates appear to have reached bottom and are likely to rise slowly to the range of 5.7% for a 30-year fixed-rate by the end of the year." Groundbreaking on new housing projects would rise 0.5% to a total of 1.71 million homes this year, he said. Lereah said he expected growth in U.S. gross domestic product to accelerate in the second half of the year. GDP would grow 2.1% over the whole of 2003, he said. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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