The worst of the United States' housing market slowdown is over, economists forecast by nearly 2-to-1 in a Wall Street Journal online economic survey, the paper reported on its Web site on Tuesday.

But the economists still predict that the average selling price of a house will fall somewhat next year, it said.

The 49 economists expect home prices, measured by the government's Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight index to fall by 0.5 percent next year, the WSJ reported on its Web site. That contrasted with a 13.4 percent increase in 2005.

After several years of double-digit increases, house prices stopped climbing this year. Prices still have some way to fall before they stabilize but there are signs that the most drastic part of the downturn, marked by a sharp pullback in demand and new construction, have run their course, the paper said.

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