Industry News

Real estate slowdown leaves casualties

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On the unlikely date of Feb. 14, Cendant Corp.'s CEO said the company plans to slash costs at real estate brokerage NRT by about $50 million by closing offices – followed just days later by an announcement from Washington Mutual that the third-largest U.S. mortgage lender is eliminating 2,500 jobs. As real estate industry layoffs continue and the toll mounts, some industry experts predict a toll of as much as 40 percent of existing jobs lost by the end of the year, while others insist that the WaMu layoffs are just an anomaly. "Reductions in the mortgage banking industry are somewhat due to the end of the refinancing boom," said Brian Carey, an economist with, "but it's probably even more due to the slowdown in the housing market over the last couple months in terms of home sales and purchase mortgage applications." The economist said that because of the drop off in applications to purchase loans, there is less work to be done on the back end, less need for appraisal...