Summary Box: Home sales fall 3.5 pct. in July

SALES DROP: The number of people who bought previously occupied homes in July fell for the third time in four months. This year is shaping up to be the worst in 14 years for home sales.

NOT HEALTHY: Home sales fell 3.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.67 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That's far below the 6 million that economists say must be sold to sustain a healthy housing market.

MANY REASONS: Bigger down payments, tougher lending rules, high debt and falling prices are keeping many would-be buyers away.