Diana Olick is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, currently serving as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the author of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com. She also contributes her real estate expertise to NBC's "Today" and "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams."
Prior to joining CNBC in 2002, Olick spent seven years as a correspondent for CBS News.
Olick began her career as a local news reporter at WABI-TV in Bangor, Maine; WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Mich.; and KIRO-TV in Seattle. She joined CBS in 1994 as a New York-based correspondent for the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather" and "The Early Show." She also contributed pieces to "48 Hours" and "Sunday Morning." During that time, she covered such stories as the World Trade Center conspiracy trial and the Boston abortion clinic shooting.
In 1995, Olick was assigned to cover the Midwest as a Dallas bureau correspondent. In the three years she was there, she covered all forms of natural disaster, including the crash of TWA Flight 800, the JonBenet Ramsey murder mystery and was the exclusive correspondent for the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols. During that time, she also took a temporary assignment in CBS' Moscow bureau, where she chronicled the brief presidential campaign of Mikhail Gorbachev.
In 1998, Olick was reassigned to the New York bureau and then immediately posted to Bahrain for the buildup to a possible second Gulf War. A year later, she went to Albania to cover the U.S. military buildup during the conflict in Kosovo.
Upon her return, Olick was reassigned to CBS' Washington bureau and the Capitol Hill beat. During Campaign 2000, Olick covered the Senate campaign of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and later joined the Bush campaign as a special correspondent for "The Early Show." That fall, she was named Supreme Court correspondent; her first case was Bush v. Gore.
Olick has a B.A. in comparative literature with a minor in soviet studies from Columbia College in New York and a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.
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Anybody pick up a newspaper this morning? Home price chatter is all the rage, thanks to a rare, positive report from the folks at S&P Case Shiller. Now, apparently, it's time for everybody to take a side: Has housing hit bottom or hasn't it? Don't worry, I won't answer that question. Not my job.
The good news is that sales volumes of new construction are rising; the bad news is they're doing so despite growing trouble with appraisals. I can't seem to talk to anyone in the real estate industry on any topic without hearing something about appraisals.
Many moons ago, like back in the George W. Bush administration, home ownership was all the rage. The "ownership society," some say, was the political impetus for the scandalous, irrational, negligent subprime lending that served to bring down the nation's economy. So as the mortgage market unwound, the homeownership rate fell, and all the politicians kept quiet, because that was the right thing; that was the necessary punishment for collective irresponsible behavior.
Today's relatively good news from the National Association of Realtors only added to the posse of positives in housing data. Sales are up for the third straight month, prices, while down, are not as far down as last month, and housing starts rose unexpectedly in June after builder confidence posted a gain as well. So what's bothering me? Inventory.
We all know commercial property prices are tanking, thanks to reduced occupancy/revenue and a completely cruddy financing landscape. That said, I think it's important to look inside the numbers and see what is the best and worst in show, so we can determine where to invest.
Despite the fact that the auctioneers claimed to have calls from interested investors all over the world, not one of those folks decided to raise a hand at the Watergate Hotel auction. PB Capital, which holds the $40 million loan on the property set the opening bid at $25 million, and that was that. Not a word. Back to PB Capital.
Tomorrow the bank holding the $40 million loan on Washington DC's Watergate Hotel, New York-based PB Capital, will put the foreclosed property up for auction. The 251-room, formerly grand, 12-story lodging has been empty since 2007. Just the memories of those few burglars who slept there the night before they did their historic deed still haunt the hallways.
I want to continue on my thread from yesterday regarding the plight of commercial real estate. Several witnesses at the Joint Economic Committee hearing warned that without more liquidity in commercial lending, the sector would be heading for crisis. In fact, it already is there. There is simply no securitization market for commercial loans right now, and without that, the well is pretty dry.
I don’t know why all the wires are leading with the quote from Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY today, that “The commercial real estate time bomb is ticking.” I’d venture to say it’s exploding all over the place. She made the comment at a hearing she chaired of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee.