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A summer sag in US home sales - and pickup in apartments

Sales of new houses in the United States this summer dropped most sharply in the hottest housing markets - especially in the Sunbelt region. But while sales of new houses dropped in June and July, rental occupancy has grown sharply. The same high interest rates that kept buyers out of new houses kept them in apartments, says a survey by Dallas-based Lomas & Nettleton, the largest US mortgage banker.

In Atlanta and in Phoenix, Ariz., the firm reports, July home sales fell 30 to 40 percent below the 1983 figures. In Denver, the drop was 25 percent. Declines were also registered in Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, and southern California. Exceptions included Austin, Texas, which was up 20 percent over 1983 , and Orlando, Fla., up 25 percent. Steady sales were reported in Philadelphia; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.; New Orleans; St. Louis; and San Antonio

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