WASHINGTON - Existing-home sales this year will drop only 3.5% below last year's record, despite recent indications of a slowing housing market and economy, the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors predicted.

David Lereah forecast sales of 5.02 million units. "We now think this will be the second-best year ever for existing-home sales, given the more favorable interest rate climate and continued strong demand," he said in the trade group's latest Real Estate Outlook.

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