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Wednesday, May 09, 2007 11:50 PM

Housing Bright Spots

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Amidst all the doom and gloom of housing warnings, there is some exciting news on Housing Bright Spots as commented on by Toll Brothers.

Toll Brothers Inc. said Wednesday that it doesn't expect to meet its full-year profit outlook and that more stringent lending standards as a result of problems in subprime mortgages are reverberating in its own luxury-home market.

The Horsham, Pa.-based company (TOL) reported preliminary results ahead of its full financial results for the second quarter, scheduled for release on May 24. For the quarter ended April 30, Toll said home-building revenue fell 19% from a year earlier, while net signed contracts dropped 25%.

"Twenty months into this housing downturn, we continue to face difficult conditions in most of our markets," said Robert Toll, the company's chief executive, in a statement.

Toll said it doesn't expect to meet its latest 2007 full-year profit outlook, which it had pegged in a range of $1.46 to $1.85 a share. It also said it anticipates reporting a profit for the second quarter.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial are looking for earnings of $1.41 a share and 42 cents a share, respectively.

CEO Toll also cited as "bright spots" a handful of markets -- New York City, Hoboken and Jersey City, N.J.; Dutchess County in New York; southeastern Connecticut; the Philadelphia metropolitan area; Raleigh, N.C.; Dallas and Austin, Texas, and parts of Northern California.
So... Toll anticipates reporting a profit for the second quarter. It seems to me the wording is in question. Will they or won't they? But thank God for bright spots like New York City.

Let's take a look at those bright spots. Bloomberg is reporting Home Prices Fall in Rich New York Suburbs Once Immune to Slump.
The U.S. housing slump has hit New York City's richest suburbs.

The average price in Westport, Connecticut, home of chief executive officers Herbert Allison of TIAA-CREF and Jeffrey Kindler of Pfizer Inc., and actor Paul Newman, fell 8.2 percent to $1.56 million in the first four months of 2007 from the same period last year, according to multiple listing service data. In Chappaqua, New York, where Bill and Hillary Clinton live, properties sit on the market an average of seven months before they sell, up from five months a year ago.

Wealth and excellent credit have until now spared bedroom communities in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York's Westchester County from declines in home prices. Now the tightening of credit in response to rising subprime defaults has disrupted the real estate food chain, bringing the national housing slump to Manhattan's doorstep. Prices fell as much as 18.8 percent this year in 15 of the 24 areas in which data was collected.

The biggest price declines are along the Metro-North Railroad line in Westchester County, New York, just north of New York City. Prices fell in eight of the 11 areas in which data was collected.

Larchmont and Mamaroneck experienced a drop of 18.8 percent to $1.08 million. In Armonk, prices declined 17.3 percent to $1.39 million. In Bronxville, the slide was 12.4 percent to $1.34 million. Prices also fell in New Rochelle (4.3 percent), Scarsdale (6 percent) and the Jefferson Valley-Shrub Oak- Yorktown-Yorktown Heights area (6.9 percent).
Anyone who did not expect this is the greater fool. More to the point, we are only in the third inning with the big decline yet to come.

Mike Shedlock / Mish

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