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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Since we're all talking about "keeping America great" today on CNBC, I think we should start at the heart, and by that I mean in the bathroom -- okay, the kitchen; I mean at home. Americans will spend nearly $233 billion on home remodeling this year, according to a press release I got yesterday from the National Association of Home Builders. A key driver in this trend is green remodeling.
I almost didn't want to do the Toll Brothers earnings report today on TV, because frankly, I feel like a broken record. Oh look, there's a homebuilder reporting poor earnings, missing the Street's expectations and lowering full-year earnings outlooks. And guess what? It's those tighter lending standards and that buyer skittishness that has everyone running for the hills of suburbia.
I'm getting a little annoyed with the premise that the subprime mortgage crisis and tightening lending standards are wholly to blame for the current headwinds in housing. Of course, they are contributing to the problem, and of course, it's important for us to keep on top of regulatory and institutional changes in the mortgage market. But here's the thing: I think we might be missing one of the boats in the blame game -- specifically, greed.
I was struck by a line toward the end of Hovnanian Enterprise Inc.'s very dour Q2 forecast. After detailing how earnings losses would be more than double expectations, including all those land losses of course, and how the "results reflect a continued challenging operating environment in most of the company's markets," the conclusion was as follows: "The adverse publicity surrounding the sub-prime market has further damaged home buyers' psychology."
As lawmakers on Capitol Hill stand in front of brightly colored placards, touting their 'Save the Subprimer’ proposals (witness Sen. Charles Schumer today), and banks get together with community groups in aggressive campaigns to seek out those in danger of default and save them from ultimate foreclosure (witness EMC's "Mortgage Mod Squad"), I fear something is getting lost. We're not in the thick of the crisis; we're right at the start.
As part of CNBC's "Rich and Richer" day, I contributed a piece on something called "Couture-Ready Real Estate." Ok, that's the fancy-brand ballyhoo that the PR rep invented; what it means is simply that you buy a huge stone mansion that is supremely lovely on the outside. Inside, it has every electrical outlet and air vent and steel beam and plumbing drain in place, but literally nothing else.
I love million-dollar home day on CNBC, not just because I get to go traipsing around the country, snooping through semi-rich people's homes, but also because I get to see that I'm not the only one getting nothing for something. Okay, that's not fair. Yes, there are hinterlands out there where a million dollars will buy you something truly large and truly beautiful; the question is: do you truly want to live there?