Economists at the National Association of Realtors see existing-home sales stabilizing in the near term and gradually rising over 2008 to end the year with 5.7 million in total sales -- up slightly (0.5%) from this year's pace."Now that the mortgage market conditions have improved, some postponed activity should turn up in existing homes over the next couple of months, and I expect sales at fairly stable to slightly higher levels," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in releasing the 2008 forecast. He noted that the 12.5% dropoff in sales in 2007 largely reflects the meltdown in subprime lending, and he said he expects a pickup in Federal Housing Administration lending that will help sales in 2008. Mr. Yun says he also expects the jumbo mortgage market to improve, although he pointed out that the spread on jumbos over conforming mortgages has widened again. The NAR also expects prices of previously owned home to stabilize and show a slight increase of 0.3% for 2008, compared with the 1.9% decline this year. The NAR can be found online at http://www.realtor.org.

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