Sales of existing US homes probably climbed in September to the highest level in two years as buyers rushed to take advantage of a government tax credit before it runs out, economists said before a report today.

Purchases rose 4.9% to a 5.35m annual rate, according to the median forecast of 76 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. A gain would be the fifth in six months.

The $8,000 credit for first-time buyers, due to expire Nov. 30, probably pulled sales and construction forward, signaling housing may cool in coming months.