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Home sales expected to cool off after hot August

Washington — Sales of existing home sales — by far the largest component of the American housing outlook— continued strong in August, setting a new record, but are expected to slow down in months ahead as consumers take a breather, the National Association of Realtors reported.

Sales climbed by 5.8 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.5 million units, up from a revised level of 5.2 million units in July. Last month's activity was 5.0 percent above the 5.24 million pace recorded in the same month a year ago.

But that won't last long, said Dr. David Lereah, NAR economist. "Like everything else, this bright spot in the American economy has been eclipsed by the events of Sept. 11. After setting a new record for existing-home sales in August, our internal tracking shows a downturn following the attack on America, and there will be some natural pullback from big-ticket purchases in the months ahead given uncertainty over the future."

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