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The possibility to estimate accurately the subsurface electric properties from ground-penetrating radar (GPR) signals using inverse modeling is obstructed by the appropriateness of the forward model describing the GPR subsurface system. In this paper, we improved the recently developed approach of Lambot et al. whose success relies on a stepped-frequency continuous-wave (SFCW) radar combined with an off-ground monostatic transverse electromagnetic horn antenna. This radar configuration enables realistic and efficient forward modeling. We included in the initial model: 1) the multiple reflections occurring between the antenna and the soil surface using a positive feedback loop in the antenna block diagram and 2) the frequency dependence of the electric properties using a local linear approximation of the Debye model. The model was validated in laboratory conditions on a tank filled with a two-layered sand subject to different water contents. Results showed remarkable agreement between the measured and modeled Green's functions. Model inversion for the dielectric permittivity further demonstrated the accuracy of the method. Inversion for the electric conductivity led to less satisfactory results. However, a sensitivity analysis demonstrated the good stability properties of the inverse solution and put forward the necessity to reduce the remaining clutter by a factor 10. This may partly be achieved through a better characterization of the antenna transfer functions and by performing measurements in an environment without close extraneous scatterers.