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US sees a big surge in condo conversions

Up to now, condo conversions have not been a major problem nationwide, says a nine-month study by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. By 1985, however, the number of conversions is expected to rise significantly.

Since 1970, the report says, only 366,000 rental units were switched to condominium or cooperative ownership in the country as a whole -- or 1.3 percent. In some areas, obviously, the number is much higher -- Washington and Chicago, for example.

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But watch out down the road, the department warns. Within five years, the agency predicts, the number of new conversions could reach 1 million.