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Root Of the Problem: Housing

Demand for U.S. mortgage applications tumbled nearly 25 percent last week, with requests for loans to buy homes sinking to an eight-year low, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday.

Expectations that government steps could push 30-year home loan rates near 4 percent, combined with a proposed $15,000 home-buying tax credit and the outlook for still lower house prices has created the incentive to wait.

"Why would I pay $200,000 today when I can pay maybe $180,000 in a couple months or even $150,000," Daniel Penrod, industry analyst for the California Credit Union League in Rancho Cucamonga, California, said on Tuesday.

What’s the trade?

Avoid commercial real estate, says Joe Terranova. But when housing finally does turn investors will get their biggest bang for their buck in lumber. When that time comes, I’d play it with Weyerhaeuser .

I’d get involved with builders with good balance sheets, says Tim Seymour. The consumer tax breaks for people buying new homes should really stimulate demand.

If you must place the space I’d look at Freeport McMoran , adds Pete Najarian, as a play on copper which is used in pipes and overall home construction.


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Trader disclosure: On Feb. 11th, 2008, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Najarian Owns (CAT) Call Spread, (ENER) Call Spread, (EEM) Call Spread, (GDX) Call Spread, (GLD) Call Spread, (STI) Call Spread, (MOS) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (CHK) Put Spread; Najarian Owns (FCX) & (FCX) Calls; Najarian Owns (GS) Calls; Najarian Owns (GE) Puts; Najarian Owns (MSFT) & (MSFT) Short Calls; Najarian Owns (MS) & (MS) Short Calls; Terranova Owns (DIS), (KCE), (XBI), (FXC); Terranova Owns (IBM) Call Spread; Terranova Owns (AMGN) Puts; Seymour Owns (MT), (BAC), (EEM), (FXI); Seymour's Firm Owns (VIP), (TKC); Adami Owns (AGU), (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE)