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Home Sale Strength Should Continue

Tue., Dec. 30, 1997, midnight

Sales of existing homes are finishing 1997 at a record pace and economists are looking for next year to be nearly as good.

Single-family homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million units in November, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. That’s just 0.2 percent lower than October’s 4.39 million rate - the best since the group began tracking sales in 1968.

The trade association projected sales for all of 1997 will total 4.31 million, also the best in 29 years, and forecast 4.09 million sales in 1998.

“We don’t expect the extraordinary year we’ve had in 1997. But … it still will be an excellent year for housing,” said economist Paul Taylor of America’s Community Bankers.

Home sales have been supported by low mortgage rates and strong economic growth, which pushed the nation’s unemployment rate to a 24-year low of 4.6 percent in November and produced the strongest income growth in eight years.

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