The National Association of Realtors is warning that sales of existing homes could decline in March simply due to unusually cold weather and without any impact from the slowdown in subprime lending.Winter storms in February brought real estate markets to a halt in much of the country, and it "should drag sales down in March," chief economist David Lereah said. "This means we may not see an upturn in closed transactions before May 25 when we report sales for April." Mr. Lereah said he sees underlying trends pointing to a housing recovery in 2007, even though home sales could be "marginally reduced" by tighter restrictions on subprime lending. He is projecting that resales will pick up as the year progresses and total 6.42 million for 2007, down only slightly from 6.48 million last year. "Lending problems in our nation's subprime marketplace are building, which could inhibit future lending activity and further dampen our forecast," Mr. Lereah said. "Even so, these problems will be contained and not spill over into the prime mortgage market."

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