Step One... Admit You've Got a Problem
"According to the latest Experian-Gallup Personal Credit Index survey, 71 percent of consumers say it is likely that a housing bubble and collapse of prices could occur in the United States within the next year."
"This year, about half of all Americans (53 percent) recognize the term "housing bubble" without explanation -- up from 35 percent a year ago."
"Twenty-four percent say such a housing bubble is not likely."
"In contrast, a much smaller number of consumers, 32 percent, expect the collapse of a housing bubble within their own area in the next year, and 65 percent say it is not likely."
Among the findings:
"When the time is extended to three years, 42 percent say such a situation is likely in their area, and 56 percent say it is not."
"The parent company of Ameriquest Mortgage Co. and Town & Country Credit said Tuesday it will close all of their 229 branch offices and lay off 3,800 employees nationwide as part of a plan to consolidate its retail mortgage lending operations."
"In addition to the branch closings, effective as of Tuesday, the company was also trimming positions at its headquarters."
"The company declined to comment beyond the statement."
"It said the changes would not affect its ability to adhere to the terms of a $325 million multistate settlement reached earlier this year with state attorneys general over claims of deceptive lending practices."
"Ameriquest is the nation's largest sub-prime mortgage lender. ACC also operates AMC Mortgage Services Inc., formerly Bedford Home Loans."
"The job cuts amount to a one-third reduction of ACC Capital's work force of 11,000. The Ameriquest and Town & Country operations will be consolidated in several large regional locations."
"The restructuring by Orange-based ACC Capital Holdings Corp. is designed to cut costs and help the lender stay competitive, company officials said."
'"We are moving strategically and decisively to remain a leader in an industry that is undergoing fundamental changes," CEO Aseem Mital said in a statement."
"Wall Street analysts pared back profit expectations for home builder Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. on Tuesday, reacting as the company warned that slowing housing markets, delays and materials costs would hit earnings this year."
"Late Monday, the Red Bank, N.J.-based company Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. lowered its second-quarter and fiscal-2006 earnings forecasts, citing postponed deliveries, sagging sales, higher cancellation rates, greater incentives, and material-price hikes."
"Analysts were quick to react as they slashed their profit outlooks for Hovnanian, which said it expects to report about a 20% decline in net contracts for the just-completed second quarter."
'"While we have expected weaker trends in orders, we were surprised by the magnitude of the 20% decline in the quarter given the significant community growth," Oppenheim said in a research note."
'"The sharp decline in orders results from both lower gross orders and a significant uptick in cancellations -- likely in the Southeast, Southwest and West," said Oppenheim, who also lowered his price target on Hovnanian's shares to $40 from $50."
"The company "seems to be underscoring that builders are being especially aggressive in liquidating inventory created by order cancellations, which is impacting margins sooner and more substantially than we had forecast in the short term," Reichardt said in a note."
"Shares of company slipped $2.39, or 6.2%, to $36.39 on Tuesday as the builder group was in retreat mode after Hovnanian's warning."
"Additionally, the National Association of Realtors early Tuesday said pending home sales fell 1.2% in March as interest rates moved higher. See Economic Report."