There was little cheer about for the real estate and housing industries this week, but the news flow was not as unrelentingly negative -- some would say depressing -- as the previous two weeks. This week, the mortgage side of the business took the spotlight.
There was, as is often the case these days, a serving of doom-and-gloom, real or imagined.
American Home Mortgage Investment, a large U.S. mortgage provider, Friday said it was shutting down most of its operations and laying off about 7,000 workers because of problems with its loan portolio.
Beazer Homeshares plunged Wednesday on rumors of a bankruptcy filing, which the company said were unfounded.
Mortgage activity slid again in the most recent week, even as interest rates edged lower amid the credit market rally.
The home lending industry received a bit of a jolt when several companies said they were limiting mortgages.
U.S. home foreclosure filings totaled 925,986 during the first six months of 2007, up 58% from the same period a year earlier, RealtyTrac said Monday.
On a sequential basis, the total was also up more than 30% from the previous six-month period, showing a foreclosure rate of one 0filing for every 134 U.S. households, according to the online marketplace for foreclosure properties
The number of California homes in foreclosure jumped 170% in the first six months of this year.
CNBC's Diana Olick has the details in her Realty Check segment.
Prices of existing single-family houses extended their slide across the country in May, marking the 18th consecutive decline in the growth rate, according to an index of major metropolitan areas.
The composite month-over-month Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index of 10 metropolitan areas declined 0.3% to 218.37, bringing the year-over-year fall to 3.4%, S&P said in a press release on Tuesday.
The composite month-over-month Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index of 20 metro areas also showed a 0.2% drop, to a 200.04 reading, or a 2.8%year-over-year loss.
CNBC's Diana Olick reports.
Pending Home Sales
There was at least one bright spot.
Pending sales of existing homes rose by 5% in June compared with the previous month, a surprisingly positive sign for the beleaguered housing market, a real-estate trade group said Wednesday.
The National Association of Realtors said it was the largest monthly gain in more than three years and that increases in pending sales were reported across the country. However, Lawrence Yun, the trade group's senior economist, wasn't overly optimistic, and the pending sales index remained 8.6% below year-ago levels.