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New Home Sales Slow A Bit

Sales of new single-family homes leveled off in July after a record-setting streak.

July sales dropped 1.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 886,000, the Commerce Department said Monday. That was the lowest new-home sales rate since March, and followed record-breaking months in April and June.

The June high, however, was less impressive than first thought, coming in at 900,000 units instead of the 935,000 units originally reported.

Economists had been expecting this year's home-buying spree - fed by low interest rates, plentiful jobs, and healthy growth in Americans' incomes - to slow a bit.

Sales during the first seven months of this year were 9.8 percent higher than in 1997.

By region, new-home sales lost the most momentum in the Midwest in July, falling 11.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 144,000 units. In the Northeast, sales dropped 1.3 percent to 74,000 units and in the West, 0.4 percent to 236,000 units.

New-home sales in the South, however, remained buoyant in July, gaining 1.4 percent to 432,000 units.

Written by Alice Ann Love