Builders, real estate firms feel market’s decline

Three dozen [tag]South Florida home builders[/tag] and real estate agents mingled last week at Buster’s Bar & Grill in downtown Delray Beach. Standing only feet apart, they shouted pleasantries over the deafening din of Elton John’s Rocket Man and Steve Miller’s Fly Like An Eagle. The music might have been more appropriate during the past few years when the housing market was soaring. Now it’s falling, leaving industry observers to count the casualties.

With mortgage applications declining this year, Washington Mutual and Countrywide Home Loans closed offices in Lake Worth and Sunrise, respectively. Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest [tag]savings and loan[/tag], laid off 1,400 people in Florida and Washington. Real estate industries nationwide once were adding 35,000 to 40,000 jobs a month, but growth in those sectors has flattened, Economy.com’s Zandi said. He expects job declines during the next six months, especially because surveys indicate builders are showing less confidence than they did a year ago.

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