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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I guess I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but I have to ask it again: just how much can the big public home builders take? KB Home, which has lost nearly a quarter of its market value this year, reported a second quarter that could give a CEO nightmares. The company posted a net loss of $148.7 million, or $1.93 a share, compare that with a net income of $205.4 million just one tragic year ago. Housing revenues, that’s if you subtract some land sales, were down 41% from a year ago.
Speaking at a real estate conference in New York, the CEO of luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers, Robert Toll, said, “I see no reason to expect a change in confidence until probably April ’08, when the candidates will fairly well be settled for the presidential election and we’ll start to listen to speeches about how we’ll get better.”
National stats out this week from various agencies that track real estate showed prices nationwide are falling, falling like a ton of bricks. But like I always say, all real estate is local, and staring out at me from the list of minus signs were two startling plus signs: Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore.
I remember last fall many of the major homebuilder CEO’s told me they expected May to be the big recovery period in the housing market. Spring would spring, and all that correctional nastiness would be a fond memory. So much for the merry month of May. New home sales in May fell 1.6% from April and are down nearly 16% from May of 2006. While 1.6% doesn’t sound like any kind of crash, it followed a ridiculous 16% burst in sales of new homes from March to April. What’s up with that?
I got some interesting email replies to my previous post on housing numbers. Take a look: I've returned to California after a six year corporate move to find my Southern California tract house selling for $1 million more than I sold it for in 2001? I am not in the market. The house was barely worth what I sold it for in 2001. I have an excellent credit rating, equity in the bank and am leasing for now. We are Leasing a new 3,100 square foot home in a new development for the price of an apartment. Why buy?
Existing home sales in May were essentially flat, down just 0.3% from April and down 10.3% from a year ago. Prices also continue to drop for the tenth straight month, down 2.1% and inventories continue to rise, now to an 8.9-month supply. A pretty bland housing report all in all, except for a strange new number slipped into the middle of the report by that crafty NAR Senior Economist, Lawrence Yun. This mention, to me at least, is the real nugget that the 94 talking heads we’ll see on TV today will inevitably miss.
(Update) I’ve seen it on the blog, so it’s no surprise to me that trouble in the housing market has some folks hot under the collar and others hosing them down. CEO’s of the major homebuilders gave me the cold shoulder at a J.P. Morgan conference last week, including Richard Dugas, CEO of Pulte Homes (see June 12 blog).
I'm happy to welcome Peter Viles to the blog today--a real estate reporter from the LA Times who blogs about all things housing. (Please check out his blog.) I asked him for some insight into the always tricky LA market, and here are his thoughts: Sticker shock: A handsome but unremarkable 5-bedroom home on a 60-foot-wide lot two miles from the beach in Santa Monica was listed in late May for $5.095 million. The aggressive pricing caused a lot of talk -- one local blogger was incredulous, asking, "Aren't you supposed to get a faux chateau for that?"
I know a lot of you real estate watchers out there don’t like the numbers, don’t believe the numbers, don’t want to hear me analyze the numbers, and if that’s the case, then please stop reading right here. For those of you left, you should know we’ll be getting a lot of new numbers at the beginning of next week: May Existing Home Sales from the National Association of Realtors, May New Home Sales from the U.S. Dept of Commerce and the S&P/Case Shiller Monthly Home Price Index. I know, fun stuff.
In researching and conducting interviews on the REIT story I’m doing today in TV land, I’m struck by the vast disconnect between how well commercial real estate is actually doing and the expectations for REIT returns this year. “We don’t see REITs getting to a new high this year- I think they’re probably going to test some new lows. And they could sit at discounts to their underlying asset values," says Citigroup REIT analyst Michael Bilerman.