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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Every now and then, I like to buck my New York City roots and pretend for a moment that I might be an optimist. It happened this morning, while I was reading the monthly Housing Affordability report from the National Association of Realtors. Apparently, Americans are spending about 22.3% of their monthly incomes on their mortgage payment. That's down from a high of 25.1%, back in July of last year.
Interesting new survey popped into the email box today, and let me just preface by saying, YES I NOTICED that the survey was commissioned by the National Apartment Association.That said, prefaced, noted, disclaimed, the survey of more than 2,100 U.S. homeowners surveyed by Harris Interactive, finds that 65% believe, given the current state of the real estate market, there are advantages to renting as opposed to owing.
Not a lot of numbers shock me, but this one almost took the life out of my "live shot" when I saw the breathtaking number flash on my screen at 10 a.m. New home sales up a whopping 16%!! Now usually I give that caveat that the margin of error on the Commerce Department report is 5 times the actual number, but not this time. This one actually beat the margin of error (+/-13.0%) by three percent!
I love plastic. I know, I know, the petroleum issues. But today I learned one more reason to love plastic: I can pay for my mortgage with it. Yes, American Express is breaking new ground, allowing its card members to pay their monthly mortgage bills on the card. I know what you're thinking, but hold on... Amex is requiring that these be prime loans only, so you can forget that whole subprime mortgage implosion issue. And of course, they'll be charging you $395 to enroll in the program.
On TV today, I'm reporting a story about the mortgage bankers pushing back against the very premise of this whole subprime mortgage "crisis." The chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association, John Robbins, is giving a speech at the National Press Club. It opens like this, "I stand before you today mad as hell. I have to be angry. It would be too depressing to accept that a very few unethical people can give my profession, and me, a black eye. But it's worse than that. It's not just our reputations that have been damaged. People have been hurt. The very people we take pride in helping. All because of a very few unethical actors."
Forgive me for getting local, but since all real estate is, I can't help but let you in on a dirty little secret in my neighborhood. Despite all the talk of prices falling through the housing floor, subprime mortgages changing the way banks do business and every other house in every development heading for foreclosure, something is simmering in Washington, D.C.Here it comes... Take a moment to breathe...
In a speech today at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke detailed the many ways in which financial regulators, including the Federal Reserve and Congress, could act in order to prevent a recurrence of the subprime mortgage crises. Okay, not many ways -- four ways.
Housing starts stopped traffic on the street again, especially after the street predicted a drop and once again, the numbers chose to take another path. Housing starts jumped up two and a half percent in April, despite a bevy of bad indicators: bad weather, high inventories, increased cancellation rates, a credit crunch, the lowest builder confidence in 15 years and low overall confidence among investors about putting their money in housing period.