Real Estate: Market Mavens

Real Estate, Real Competition

Poaching employees is common practice in many fields, particularly on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, where rival companies are looking for any competitive edge. Talent -- or intellectual capital -- can certainly make a difference in the bottom line -- especially when the business climate isn't at its best.

So, no surprise then that one real estate agency in the New York City suburb of Scarsdale, New York raisdd another recently, poaching 17 top realtors.

With sales slowing and prices edging lower in many parts of the country, including Westchester County, individual realtors can make a difference. This group, for instance, totaled some $400 million in sales last year.

CNBC's Trish Regan reports from Scarsdale.

A Delicate Balance

PIMCO founder and chief investment officer Bill Gross has made predicting the direction of interest rates his business, so when he calls for four interest rate cuts from the Fed in 2007 -- clearly in the second half -- those in the housing business might take some comfort.

There's a "delicate balance between the cost of financing and home prices," says Gross. By his analysis, if rates fell 50-75 basis points, then home prices at current prices could be supported. Right now, prices are overvalued.

Gross thinks "the Fed doesn't want to see home prices fall more than 5%." (Based on his analysis, home prices overall have fallen 2%-3%. ) Gross says the central bank is distinctly aware of what happened in Japan in the 1990s when the real estate estate bubble popped, triggering a bout of deflation.

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