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Home Builders, Owners Concerned Over Possibility Of Higher Interest Rates

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Officials say mortgage lending rates are at a 40-year low, but when economic times get better, they may go up again, which is cause for concern among builders and homeowners.

The Friday Center at UNC in Chapel Hill was packed Monday with home builders anxious to learn how to avoid the downturns or reap the benefits of a recovering economy.

Raleigh builder Larry Smith said housing sales have been slow.

"I think it's more of misery loves company," he said. "Low interest rates have helped with a little bit of activity that's out there."

N.C. State economist Mike Walden said home builders have reason to be concerned.

"It's a mixed bag for builders," he said. "The bad news is that I think at some point in 2003, those interest rates stocks are going to start to head up, and we still have two big uncertainities in the economy that are really keeping everyone on edge. Obviously, one is terrorism and the other with Iraq."

Walden predicts interest rates may not start to increase until the end of 2003.


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