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Open commentary on everything impacting the U.S. housing economy. The opinions expressed here represent the author's alone.

Glitzy OC reels in foreclosures

The Orange County Register's Mathew Padilla notes that foreclosures in Orange County -- which includes such glamorous spots as Newport Beach and Laguna Beach -- are soaring. In fact, it only took the first five months of 2008 to surpass the total number of foreclosures filed during all of 2007. A look at a scary graph that would be good news if it were profits, and not foreclosures:
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NAR's numbers proven wrong in New Jersey

File this under too good to pass up: it turns out the National Association of Realtors got their quarterly sales numbers wrong in New Jersey, and not just by a little bit. On May 13, the NAR's first quarter sales summary was released with the requisite highlighting of those few remaining "pockets of strength" in key metropolitan areas. One such area was New Jersey, which apparently had seen sales jump 4 percent on a year-over-year basis. Except for one problem: they didn't.
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Is walking away helping consumer spending?

Here's an interesting thought: walking away from your unaffordable mortgage might actually prop up consumer spending. At least, that's the conclusion of Tom Lee, chief U.S. equity strategist at JPMorgan Securities. Via Reuters: "In a perverse way, people who are leaving homes are actually helping the consumer spending picture," Lee told the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit on New York.
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KeyCorp's woes and the kitchen sink

If you haven't figured it out just yet, the second quarter earnings about to be reported by more traditional banks and Wall Street's i-banks isn't exactly shaping up to be a pretty one. The latest case in point are woes at Cleveland-based regional bank KeyCorp, which shook up the financial headlines this week with news that it would raise $1.5 billion in capital and cut its dividend.
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Buy and bail, the newest trend in housing shenanigans

It turns out that prices have fallen enough in some housing markets that existing homeowners can finally afford that second home -- and then promptly stop paying on the first. The Wall Street Journal gives us anecdotal evidence of the so-called "buy and bail," in which we see borrowers trading a new mortgage for a defaulted one:
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North Carolina Senator Latest to Join Foreclosure Mess

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that North Carolina state Senator Julia Boseman is involved in the foreclosure of a home she once owned with her domestic partner: Sen. Julia Boseman and Melissa Jarrell have failed to pay the $7,156 monthly payments since last August, according to evidence at a court hearing last week. The home is now scheduled to be auctioned June 25 at the county courthouse, the Star-News of Wilmington reported.
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Foreclosure listing sites have now officially jumped the shark

Foreclosures are mainstream now -- but have they become too mainstream? Evidence into the docket Tuesday comes courtesy of discount retailer, which put out a press released touting it's new foreclosure search engine. We're not making this up. Some useless chest-thumping from the press statement is always good for comedic value:
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Are pending home sales really negative?

We're not always contrarians here at HW, but some recent buzz surrounding yesterday's pending home sales report from the NAR has caught the eye of a few industry types that we know. In particular, the Calculated Risk blog weighs in with a suggesting that home sales are in much bigger trouble than Monday's surprisingly good reading might otherwise suggest.
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