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The Commerce Dept. put a damper on Christmas for real estate agents today when it announced that new home sales in November fell 11.3% in November, seasonally adjusted, from their October level. It also said that the seasonally adjusted number of unsold new homes at the end of November was 503,000—which is up 22% from a year earlier.
Real estate agents have had a good run. Over the past five years, employment in the sector is up 13%. It’s up 19% in residential construction. But if the housing market softens—as is becoming increasingly obvious—2006 will be a lot less cheery.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.