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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Housing/Subprime/Credit Roundup — May 28, 2008

Items of Interest:

Reuters:
Mortgage applications slipped in latest week: MBA -- Applications for home mortgages slipped for a second consecutive week as borrowing rates crept higher, according to data published by an industry group on Wednesday.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity decreased 4.6 percent to 593.3 in the week ended May 23. It was the lowest level since the week ended April 25, suggesting tight credit conditions and falling home prices continued to depress the housing market.

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 5.96 percent last week, up 6 basis points from the previous week, the MBA said. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages jumped to 6.92 percent in the week from 6.71 percent a week earlier...

Housing Wire:
Applications Fall as Refinancing Slows; Activity Scratches Yearly Low
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Wall Street Journal:
The Truth Behind Florida's Housing Numbers -- Take the latest data on the housing market crash with a huge dose of salt.

I have just finished a week-long tour of the real estate market down here, one of the worst hit parts of the country. And one of the few things I can say with complete certainty is that nobody down there knows where "the market" overall really is. In a crash like this one, talk about "average" home prices is almost meaningless.

But if you have wanted a vacation or retirement home in Florida and you have been waiting for prices to come down, this really is the time to start looking...
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Jeff Jarvis / Seeking Alpha:
Realtors, Prepare to Lose Your 6 Percent -- The monopolistic hold big real estate agents have had on information — on access to use multiple listings services — has been blown open at last thanks to the Justice Department’s antitrust settlement with the National Association of Realtors.

Kiss your 6 percent commission good-bye, Ms. Agent! Competition is on the way.

The only reason — only reason — that Realtors could hold onto their high commission for such little value and work is that they kept information away from the marketplace, making it inefficient. To quote Umair Haque:
Competitive advantage is fundamentally about making markets work less efficiently. One catastrophically effective way to do that is to hide and obscure information – to gain bargaining power relative to the guy on the other side of the table. . . .

A world of cheap, abundant, always-on interaction, where value is shifting to the edges, demands a fresh understanding of what’s truly strategic and what’s not...
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