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

Who's bailing out whom?

In the secondary market, things can change in an instant. One minute, its hedge funds bailing out banks. The next, it's banks bailing out hedge funds. Bloomberg takes a look Wednesday at -- surprise! -- a flickering pulse in the battered CDO market:
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Burning down the house

Talk about ruining the mojo for a classic 80s tune: CNBC on Monday took a look at a growing trend of arson among troubled homeowners, either looking to get back at a lender they feel wronged them or as part of an attempt to collect insurance dollars. Take a look: Speaking of, why didn't the segment make use of some Talking Heads as background? We're just asking.
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Toll blames media for housing's demise

Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers reported operating results through April on Tuesday morning, and the tally shows that the housing mess is far from over. Some highlights: Revenue of approximately $817.9 million, down 30 percent from one year ago. Inventory backlog 50 percent lower than year-ago, signaling a slowing in build activity. Average prices fell to $590,000, compared to $711,000 in the year ago quarter, and $634,000 in FY 2008's first quarter (Toll's fiscal year doesn't run in tandem with the calendar year)
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Jumbo conforming pulse check

We've heard from our sources on the Street that Fannie Mae's decision to price so-called "jumbo conforming" mortgages in-line with existing conforming product last week is having an effect, with the $417,000 to $729,500 mortgages finally starting to move. We asked one of our sources in the primary market what sort of rates were out there -- who manages the mortgage operations at a very large home builder -- and we were told the following was par for last Friday: Conforming 5.625% at 0 points Agency Jumbo 6.000% at 0 points Jumbo 6.250% at 0 points  
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The political risk of a housing bailout

The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting story Monday looking at the flip-side of a proposed housing aid package being pushed aggressively by Congressional Democrats -- namely, that there are a pretty good number of people that don't want to see Federal dollars used to help troubled borrowers. It's a polarizing question, according to the WSJ:
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On the myth of walking away

The idea that home owners are walking away en masse is called out as an "urban myth" by the New York Times this weekend: The blogosphere is full of tales of homeowners who supposedly are choosing to mail the house keys to their lenders rather than keep their depreciating homes. And yet “jingle mail,” the term for those tinkling packages of keys, appears to be far rarer than many seem to think.
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Signs of recovery overestimated?

Here at HW, we've been covering what appears to be a potential rebound in the secondary mortgage market. But at least one senior exec is pulling a "not so fast" response to that sort of thinking. Via MarketWatch, late last week:
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