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Real estate is shrinking

Perspective: Strategic reassessment is key to survival in smaller housing markets

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The real estate sector of the U.S. economy has become smaller. And that means the pie of opportunity isn't as plump as it had been in recent years. A "smaller" pie doesn't necessarily mean a "small" pie; however, it does mean less business overall. And that undoubtedly means some real estate pros will perish while others prosper. For anyone who's not convinced of this shrinkage, here are a few recent news items: Preliminary data suggest the National Association of Realtors' index of pending sales declined 10.1 percent nationally in 2006 compared with 2005. Regionally, that index dropped 14.8 percent in the West, 13 percent in the Midwest, 9.3 percent in the Northeast and 6 percent in the South for the same timeframe. Sales of existing homes declined in Colorado, Iowa and New York in December 2006 compared with December 2005. Mortgage insurance giants MGIC Investment Corp. and Radian Group have decided to consolidate into one company. Connecticut-based Mortgage Lenders Networ...