Existing-home sales surged in the Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina and national sales held steady at a near-record pace in September, according to the National Association of Realtors."We are now getting some hard data from this region, with spot checks showing sharply higher sales to residents who were displaced by the hurricane," NAR chief economist David Lereah said. "The sales surge is more than offsetting declines in the disaster zone." The NAR reported that September sales of single-family homes, condominiums, and coops remained unchanged from their August level at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7.28 million -- the second-highest pace on record. Single-family home sales rose 0.6% in September to a record 6.38 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. The NAR also reported that the rate of annual house price appreciation fell from 15.8% in August to 13.4% in September. Mr. Lereah said the housing market is starting to make the transition from a boom to an expansion. He said he is expecting a "soft landing." The NAR can be found online at http://www.realtor.org.

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