WASHINGTON--The coming year should be as strong for housing as the current year has been, according to Fannie Mae’s chief economist.

The U.S. recession has had little negative impact on housing because low interest rates have offset declines in consumer confidence stemming from job worries and the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Fannie Mae's David Berson said.

The coming year should bring a gradual resumption of growth that will increase in the last six months, he said.

Because housing indicators -- new and existing home sales, housing starts and mortgage finance activity -- have remained relatively strong despite the recession, they are unlikely to soar once the recovery begins, Berson said. Instead, they should remain at near-record levels.

Berson forecast surging refinancing would continue into the early part of 2002. Originations could be slowed if interest rates rose but are still likely to be on track for a strong year, he said.

Home values are likely to rise at a more moderate pace, around 3.5% to 4%, instead of this year's gains of more than 9%, he added.