Wall Street swung a megaton wrecking ball at real estate stocks in September. Every one of the 10 companies that comprise the hypothetical Inman Index of real estate stocks suffered a one-month loss and all of the issues have lost at least 10 percent, if not much more, of their value so far this year. Hardest hit among the 10 companies last month were home builder D.R. Horton and online broker ZipRealty. The bad news for Horton and other builders began early in the month when the National Association of Realtors trade group announced its Pending Home Sales Index had dropped more than 12 percent from 107.1 in July 2006 to 89.9 in July 2007, signaling further declines in future home sales. Then a government report showed a July-to-August decline in housing starts; a separate survey reported that builder confidence had faltered; and the bad news went on from there. Not even the Federal Reserve's half-point cuts in two key interest rates were enough to help builders dig themselves out of ...
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