Industry Watch

INDUSTRY WATCH

December 12, 2004

Garwyn Oaks center sponsors workshop on buying a home

The Garwyn Oaks Housing Resource Center will sponsor a free home-buying workshop this week.

Real estate and mortgage professionals will provide information about selecting, qualifying for and purchasing a home.

The workshop is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at 2610 Garrison Blvd. Information and registration: 410-947-0084.

Higher home sales, prices forecast if rates stay low

The National Association of Realtors, the U.S. industry's largest trade group, raised forecasts for home sales and price gains this year and next on expectations that mortgage rates will remain near record lows.

Sales of existing homes probably will reach 6.58 million this year and 6.38 million in 2005, higher than projections of 6.55 million and 6.3 million, respectively, that the Washington- based group called for a month ago.

New-home sales may register 1.18 million this year and 1.13 million in 2005, higher than NAR's previous estimates of 1.17 million and 1.07 million.

The Realtors' group, while raising forecasts, still expects new and existing U.S. home sales to fall next year, which would be the first decline in five years. Low rates are spurring people to purchase homes now rather than wait until next year, the Realtors' chief economist, David Lereah, said Tuesday.

NAR has forecast since 2002 that annual sales would decline. But in each of the previous years, sales rose as mortgage rates fell more than expected. A record 6.1 million existing homes and 1.09 million new homes were sold in 2003, the group said.

Prices for existing homes likely will gain 7.9 percent this year and 5 percent in 2005, the group said. New homes probably will gain 8.9 percent this year and 5.8 percent in 2005, the group said.

From Bloomberg News and Associated Press reports.

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