Whether you're buying a home, selling one or sitting on the sidelines monitoring the progress of your biggest investment, 1995 holds mostly good news for you: Home prices in most cities will continue to appreciate faster than inflation.

According to the WEFA Group, an economics consulting firm in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., 73 of the 100 biggest metropolitan areas should have price increases in 1995 that will beat the expected 3.5 percent inflation rate for the overall economy.David Lereah, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, is predicting a national average jump of 4.8 percent for new-home prices in 1995, and a 3.5 percent increase for existing houses -- just about a dead heat with inflation.

Housing markets are proving to be the Energizer Bunny of the economy. Through 1994 they went on and on, even as mortgage interest rates went up and up.

Almost 4 million homes were expected to sell by the end of 1994, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). That would be one of the highest-volume years ever, and 4.3 percent above 1993, when interest rates were lower.

Sales were starting to slow toward the end of '94, but even if sales volume drops off to about 3.7 million in 1995, as the NAR forecasts, that's still a lot of front-door keys changing hands.

Chalk it up to affordability. According to the NAR, a family earning the national median income had more than enough income (128 percent) to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home.

In 1995, mortgage rates should remain affordable. Thirty-year fixed-rate loans topped 9 percent in the fall -- more than two percentage points over what they were a year earlier -- but they're still safely on the affordable side of the dread double-digit rates that wreaked havoc on housing markets in the early 1980s.

A return to adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), which offer low first-year rates, will continue to help buyers qualify for mortgages, as they did in '94.

Unless the economy is much stronger than the 2.5 percent to 3 percent growth most economists are predicting and inflation runs away in 1995, 30-year rates should stay below 10 percent through the year.

If the economy slows down and the inflationary scare is dispelled, rates could even trend down a bit by the end of the year.