WASHINGTON — The National Association of Realtors is predicting a strong rebound for the U.S. housing market in 2010, buoyed by the expansion of a home buyer tax credit through the middle of the year.

Existing home sales will jump 13.6% to 5.69 million next year from a forecasted 5.01 million in 2009, the Realtors will say in their annual U.S. housing forecast, due for release later Friday.

Meanwhile, new-home sales will grow to 549,000 in 2010 from 397,000 this year. And housing starts, including multifamily units, will shoot up to 752,000 next year from 564,000 this year.

"We've seen a steady downtrend in housing inventory for well over a year and home prices appear to be in the early stages of stabilizing," Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a press release.

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