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BUSINESS
February 2, 2008 | From Times Wire Services
Beazer Homes USA Inc., which is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, plans to exit the mortgage business and stop selling homes in four markets. The Atlanta-based builder will withdraw from Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati-Dayton and Columbus, Ohio; Columbia, S.C.; and Lexington, Ky. Countrywide Financial Corp. will become the company's preferred loan provider, Beazer said. Its shares rose 6.9%. Beazer said in October that it found evidence that employees of its mortgage unit violated federal rules.
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REAL ESTATE
January 27, 2008 | Ann Brenoff
What's in, what's out with home buyers in 2008? Mark Nash, author of several real estate books including "1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home," has completed his annual survey of buyer preferences. Among his findings: Buyers want a destination bathroom -- the kind of getaway that has multiple task areas like a free-standing or throne bathtub, a flat-screen TV, wireless Internet and an in-home hair salon. And because we love our pets so, how about a shower for Fido that he can simply step into instead of having to be hoisted?
REAL ESTATE
January 27, 2008 | Chicago Tribune
The American Dialect Society picked "sub-prime" as its word of the year for 2007. It may seem the obvious choice. But what the language group also noted was that the 2007 housing woes created a new category, solely of real-estate-related words, that rose in prominence in the American lexicon. Among the winners: exploding ARM (an adjustable-rate mortgage whose rate rises beyond a borrower's ability to pay); liar loan (stated-income or no-documentation loans that permit borrowers to exaggerate income)
BUSINESS
January 15, 2008 | From Bloomberg News
U.S. existing-home sales will reach a bottom in 2008 as buyers find it tougher to get mortgages, according to a forecast by the Mortgage Bankers Assn., the industry's largest trade group. Sales of previously owned homes probably will drop to an 11-year low of 4.94 million from 5.68 million last year and then increase to 5.12 million in 2009, the Washington-based group said Monday. New-home sales are likely to tumble 15% this year to 666,000 before rising 6.6% in 2009.
BUSINESS
January 14, 2008 | E. Scott Reckard, Times Staff Writer
The no-worries lending that inflated the housing bubble is resulting in a flood of soured option-ARM loans, adjustable-rate mortgages that allow borrowers to pay so little every month that their loan balances rise rather than fall, sometimes sharply.
NATIONAL
December 31, 2007 | Stephanie Simon, Times Staff Writer
Dozens of states, counties and cities across the nation will enter the new year facing deep and unexpected budget holes as the widening mortgage crisis cuts sharply into tax revenue. Elected officials, scrambling to adjust, are trimming money for public schools, reducing grants to help the homeless, even asking police to dry-clean their uniforms less often. "We're talking about a pretty tough fiscal environment for the next four or five years," said Christopher W.
BUSINESS
December 26, 2007 | From Times Wire Services
Gilbert, Ariz.-based Re/Max 2000, one of the Phoenix area's largest real estate brokerages, shut down its 13 offices this week, as the housing bust hits a city that was once one of the nation's hottest markets. Robert Kline, who started the franchise in 2000 and grew the business through acquisitions, said his decision to close was made after a particularly rough patch in December, when it became clear he no longer could afford to pay overhead expenses.
REAL ESTATE
December 23, 2007 | Mary Umberger, Chicago Tribune
LAS VEGAS -- Google executive Justin McCarthy smiled, looked out upon a vast room packed with Realtors and said, "My, my, how times have changed." Just four years earlier, he said, he had spoken to a real estate industry conference on technology trends and got the message that Google was viewed with suspicion. "There was this notion of a lion coming over the hill," he said, evoking a phrase widely heard in the industry at the time.
BUSINESS
December 19, 2007 | Peter Y. Hong, Times Staff Writer
If you're a renter looking to join the homeowner club, the cost of admission keeps getting lower. Home sale prices in six Southland counties tumbled 10% last month compared with November 2006 -- the sharpest year-to-year decline in at least 20 years, a real estate information service reported Tuesday. Sales volume dropped even more sharply, plummeting 43% from a year earlier, according to DataQuick Information Systems. For homeowners, falling values mean less equity.
BUSINESS
December 13, 2007 | From Times Wire Services
Shares of U.S. real estate companies are market pariahs, but shares of a Chinese developer got a warm welcome Wednesday on their first day of trading on Wall Street. Xinyuan Real Estate Co., which sold 17.5 million shares at $14 each on Tuesday, jumped $2.80, or 20%, to close at $16.80 on the New York Stock Exchange. The Zhengzhou, China, company, which trades under the ticker symbol XIN, generates most of its revenue from apartment sales in five Chinese cities.
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