Stories for November 2008
Friday, November 28
South Coast Plaza was enjoying Black Friday as the Costa Mesa shopping center was jammed, while elsewhere around the county malls were slower.
UBS slashed its price target on Bank of America Corp. by 48%, citing tighter credit conditions, uncertainty over near-term prospects of the Merrill Lynch & Co. deal and risk of additional write-downs.
One of the noisier board fights Orange County has seen in years comes to a head next week some 2,500 miles away in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting for Santa Ana-based Grubb & Ellis Co.
Macy's Inc. expects to close up to 10 stores next year and is in a position to use $950 million in cash to pay down debt, its chief executive said on Friday.
Britain bought a 58% stake in Royal Bank of Scotland on Friday as the state picked up $23 billion of shares in the lender after investors shunned a rescue plan.
Wednesday, November 26
Shares of Santa Ana-based title insurer First American Corp. surged Wednesday on word that a rival is filing for bankruptcy protection.
Chrysler CBS.UL is prepared to meet "accountability and viability" criteria requested by Congress as a condition for considering a government bailout for the auto industry, Chief Executive Bob Nardelli said.
The former wife of Henry "Nick" Nicholas is suing the beleaguered Broadcom Corp. cofounder to break up a joint trust that controls about 30% of the Irvine chipmaker, according to the Orange County Register.
Banks will incur about $44 billion in write-downs and loss provisions in the fourth quarter, and much of the U.S. Treasury capital will be diverted to plug holes on their balance sheets, prominent banking analyst Meredith Whitney said.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International is trying to sublease all or part of its Aliso Viejo headquarters just two years after the slimmed down drug maker moved its operations there from Costa Mesa.
Consumers cut spending during October at the steepest rate in more than seven years and orders for costly manufactured goods plummeted, according to Commerce Department reports on Wednesday that implied a steep recessionary downturn was at hand.
Tuesday, November 25
This qualifies as news these days: Newport Beach-based chipmaker Conexant Systems Inc. has renewed a credit line for $50 million through November 2009.
Irvine's Microsemi Corp., which makes chips for industrial uses by the military, is finally wrapping up a plant closure in Colorado that has been hung up for years.
The number of problem banks and thrifts jumped in the third quarter to 171, from 117 at the end of the prior quarter, marking the highest level since the end of 1995 and adding to expectations that more banks will fail, regulators said on Tuesday.
The price of an existing Orange County home stands nearly $200,000 below its year-ago price, after slipping another $5,650 in October from September, the California Association of Realtors said on Tuesday.
Consumer confidence improved moderately in November from a record low in October, with the "present situation index" slipping slightly but the expectations index improving, according to a business research company index released on Tuesday.
The Federal Reserve, in another massive life-support intervention for the financial system, on Tuesday announced a $600 billion program to buy mortgage-related debt and securities and a $200 billion facility to support consumer debt securities.
Monday, November 24
World Marketing Group is about to become the biggest local advertising agency you've never heard of
The government has bailed out Citigroup Inc., agreeing to shoulder most of the potential losses on $306 billion of high-risk assets and inject $20 billion of new capital in its biggest move yet to rescue a bank.
SenoRx's stock has taken a hit after the company was one of the biggest local IPOs in 2007
Impac Mortgage is starting to shed some light on the big changes it is making to its ever evolving corporate strategy, in the Real Estate column
Downey Financial Corp. plans to file for bankruptcy this week after its savings and loan was seized by federal regulators on Friday.
Malls still expect the same holiday crowds though less spending, in the Marketplace column
Beyond Badges, Concealed Weapons, Sheriff Eyes Crime Surge, 2010 Vote
Some wealthy clients of UBS AG are coming forward to make amends with U.S. tax authorities after a former UBS private banker was indicted, a sign that U.S. efforts to battle offshore tax evasion are having the desired effect, the Wall Street Journal repor
Surviving the Fire; Lindstrom Joins Bren's Top Team
The Orange County Register has settled a long-running lawsuit brought against it by a group of 5,000 carriers who deliver the daily newspaper.
South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. has named one of its longest-serving U.S. executives to head its Fountain Valley-based U.S. operations.
Sunstone Hotel Investors is planning a $50 million expansion of the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach hotel
Specialized Marketing Services is heading up a marketing campaign for Stremicks Heritage Foods, in the Media & Marketing column
Valeant Pharmaceuticals is trying to sublease all or part of its Aliso Viejo headquarters
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International said Monday that mid-stage clinical trial results for a hepatitis C drug candidate were encouraging.
Cautious investing and spending is shielding Memorial Health Services from the worst of the credit crisis, in the Healthcare column
The pace of sales of existing homes fell 3.1 percent in October to a 4.98 million-unit annual rate, while the median home price dropped to its lowest in more than four years, a National Association of Realtors report showed on Monday.
The retail market is in for a wild ride in 2009. PLUS: CHARTS - Net Absorption; Vacancy Rates; Average Asking Lease Rates
After a failed attempt at enticing young customers, St. John Knits is launching a line for women in their 20s, 30s and 40s
Alar Staffing has started a subsidiary that offers affordable transportation to its temporary workers
Startup Quartics Inc. has recruited a chief executive, in the Technology column
Friday, November 21
New York-based hedge fund Elliott Associates LP on Friday pulled out of its hostile bid to buy Irvine's Epicor Software Corp.
Consumers expect the unemployment rate to rise steeply in a prolonged recession, and as a result have slashed spending plans, according to a survey released on Friday.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said Lee Scott will retire as chief executive early next year and will be succeeded by Mike Duke, who heads its international operations.
Citigroup Inc. shares tumbled for a fifth straight day, as Chief Executive Vikram Pandit tried to downplay speculation the banking giant might sell major businesses to restore its health and investor confidence.
The county's running job losses hit a new recent high in October as employers shed 35,100 workers versus a year earlier, according to the state's Employment Development Department.
Thursday, November 20
Huntington Beach-based Quiksilver Inc.'s fire sale of its struggling ski business has prompted Moody's Corp. to lower ratings on the clothing maker.
Shares of General Motors Corp. tumbled more than 35 percent to hit a 70-year low on Thursday as prospects dimmed that lawmakers would reach a compromise on a proposed $25 billion bailout for automakers before Congress adjourns this week.
The number of American workers on the unemployment rolls surged to the highest in a quarter century and a regional manufacturing gauge slumped as economic misery intensified.
Citigroup Inc.'s largest individual investor gave the troubled bank new support, saying he would boost his stake modestly, but failed to revive investor confidence as the bank's shares tumbled another 25 percent.
Santa Ana's Ingram Micro Inc., the world's biggest distributor of technology products, software and consumer electronics, said it purchased two smaller European distributors.
Cost cutting helped Wet Seal Inc. post a quarterly profit that met Wall Street projections, but the Foothill Ranch-based mall retailer warned that profits and sales for the current quarter would fall short of expectations.
Wednesday, November 19
Fox-Pitt Kelton said it expects Citigroup Inc. to take net write-downs of $3 billion during the fourth quarter, and widened its loss expectation on the company for the period to reflect higher credit costs and write-downs.
New York hedge fund Elliott Associates LP said Wednesday it extended its deadline to buy more shares in a hostile buyout bid of Irvine's Epicor Software Corp.
Shares of Anaheim-based Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. got a boost on Wednesday after an analyst upgraded the company's stock, saying the struggling retailer likely will stay in business.
A bank that survived the Depression and an upstart maker of packs for exercisers were among five businesses honored Wednesday at the annual Family Owned Business awards luncheon put on by the Business Journal and California State University, Fullerton's F
The ongoing fight at Santa Ana-based Grubb & Ellis Co. took another turn Wednesday as directors accused former chairman Tony Thompson of using a "costly and disruptive proxy contest" to force unwanted change on the real estate brokerage and investment com
Auto executives headed to Capitol Hill for a second day to argue their case for a $25 billion aid package in the face of mounting political opposition to another huge government bailout.
Consumer prices dropped at the fastest rate on record in October and new home construction was at a record low, according to government reports on Wednesday that underlined how rapidly the economy was weakening.
Tuesday, November 18
Producer prices fell a record 2.8 percent in October as energy prices slid, government data on Tuesday showed, but a measure of core inflation at the farm and factory gate rose more than forecast.
Auto executives were set to take their case for a $25 billion industry bailout to Congress on Tuesday as they hope to overcome political opposition from influential congressional Republicans and the White House.
Shares of Irvine-based Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. closed down 40% Tuesday after the New York Stock Exchange said the company's stock should be removed from trading on the prestigious exchange by this Friday.
Anaheim-based mall retailer Pacific Sunwear reported a slim quarterly profit before charges Monday that met Wall Street expectations, but the company also warned about the current quarter.
A Santa Ana judge on Tuesday found San Diego's Qualcomm Inc. in contempt of a ban on chips that were found to infringe on patents held by Irvine-based rival Broadcom Corp.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said on Tuesday it will be opening a temporary office in the Irvine Spectrum next month, and it signed one of the largest office leases seen in Orange County in several years.
Orange County's median home price slipped another $5,000 in October from September, but sales volumes continued to improve over year-ago levels.
The housing slump is set to worsen in 2009, as fallout from this year's plunge in the stock market and consumer confidence continues to cast a pall over potential buyers.
Monday, November 17
A look at people, companies and institutions receiving awards, accolades, grants and other honors
Disney is spending $1.1 billion to make over its disappointing California Adventure park
A profile of the Vizio top-tier management who support Chief Executive William Wang in running the company
Recent media reports have analyzed health insurers' need to approve hospital medical scans, in the Healthcare column
Riviera Magazine debuts a redesign this month, in the Media & Marketing column
Citigroup Inc. revealed plans to cut 52,000 jobs by early next year in Chief Executive Vikram Pandit's most dramatic move yet to restore profitability and bolster a sagging share price.
The national economy could take 12 to 18 months to rebound, according to Paul McCulley, a managing director with Newport Beach-based bond fund manager Pacific Investment Management Co.
Residents of Brea, Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills headed back to their neighborhoods on Sunday to assess damage or count their blessings after fire swept through the area over the weekend.
How Broadcom helped OC's chipmakers boost their employee count in the past year
Retailers are forecasting a grim holiday season, in the Marketplace column
Industrial output rebounded in October after hurricane disruptions produced a stunning fall in September, but early data suggested manufacturing would suffer this month, according to reports on Monday.
Hozell makes clothes inspired by two of the most popular leisure sports in OC, in the Small Business column
Tough Housing Market Isn't a Boon for Apartment Owners Who Compete with Homeowners
Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. is expected to report a quarterly operating loss Tuesday as the clothing retailer continues to battle declining sales, an analyst said Monday.
The Santa Ana office tower that holds the headquarters of Grubb & Ellis has a new leasing agent: Grubb & Ellis, in the Real Estate column
The future of Marblehead is in doubt after an involuntary bankruptcy filing by SunCal Cos.
Economy Pushes Businesses to Take Less Office Space
The economy is in recession and will contract at a faster pace in the fourth quarter, extending the decline into early 2009 as high unemployment crimps consumer spending, a survey showed.
Anaheim's GardenWalk has opened during one of the toughest markets for retail in recent memory
Mindspeed Technologies is betting on chips for voice over Internet protocol, in the Technology column
An OC startup has ideas on how to improve the process of getting patients into drug and device trials
Recent media reports have analyzed health insurers' need to approve hospital medical scans, in the Healthcare column
With many local experts bracing for a commercial real estate tumble, the fates of some big deals are up in the air.
Cox Communications has spent the past five years developing its local advertising business
Friday, November 14
Citigroup Inc. is cutting at least 10,000 jobs in its investment bank and other divisions throughout the world, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.
Adventist Health, owner of South Coast Medical Center, on Friday selected St. Joseph Health System to buy the Laguna Beach hospital.
Shares of Irvine drug maker Allergan Inc. fell Friday on news that regulators received reports of serious problems in people treated with skin-filling injections.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International said Friday it bought DermaTech Pty Ltd., an Australian company, for $12.2 million.
Retailer J.C. Penney Inc. on Friday said quarterly profit fell nearly 53 percent and warned of worsening results for the rest of the year, just weeks before the crucial holiday shopping season begins.
Sales at retailers suffered a record decline in October as fears of recession sapped spending, but part of the drop was due to slumping gasoline prices, which helped buoy consumer confidence this month.
Thursday, November 13
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported a slightly better-than-expected 10 percent rise in quarterly profit on Thursday as shoppers seeking relief from deteriorating global economic conditions scoured its aisles for discounts on groceries and medicine.
Nortel Networks Corp., North America's biggest maker of telephone equipment, will have to rely on asset sales to fund its battered operations and risks running out of money and collapsing under its debt load before 2011, an analyst warned on Thursday.
Quiksilver Inc. has closed the sale of its struggling Rossignol unit for $50 million, or about 40% of what it had hoped to get in August and a fraction of the $560 million it paid for the French ski maker in 2005.
Shares of Irvine-based chipmaker Microsemi Corp. rose after the company gave an outlook for the current quarter that was flat with the recently ended quarter but in line with Wall Street's expectations.
The number of workers drawing jobless benefits hit a 25-year high this month and imports suffered a record drop in September, according to reports on Thursday that underscored a rapid drop-off in the economy.
San Clemente-based Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. is planning a $50 million expansion of its Hyatt Regency Newport Beach.
Epicor Software Corp., an Irvine maker of business software, said Thursday it's set to cut jobs in a bid to save money.
The future of San Clemente's stalled Marblehead Coastal development is in further doubt after the 248-acre project was placed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the management of Irvine-based SunCal Cos.
Wednesday, November 12
Best Buy Co., the No. 1 U.S. electronics chain, slashed its fiscal 2009 profit forecast on Wednesday, driven by weak consumer spending heading into the crucial holiday selling season.
The financial crisis could be about three-quarters of the way through with more turmoil still to come, Mohamed El-Erian, co-chief executive of Newport Beach-based bond manager Pacific Investment Management Co., told CNBC on Wednesday.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Wednesday said he was backing away from buying troubled mortgage assets using a $700 billion bailout fund, instead favoring a second round of capital injections into financial institutions that would match private funds
Diehard fans of "World of Warcraft," the blockbuster online game from Irvine's Blizzard Entertainment Inc., have lined up a day early to be the first to get their hands on the newest installment of the game at an Anaheim electronics store.
Macy's Inc. reported a quarterly loss on Wednesday as shoppers curbed trips to the mall and avoided all but the most crucial of purchases as the economic crisis deepens, but the department store operator beat Wall Street estimates, sending its shares up 3
Irvine-based mortgage investor Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. on Wednesday posted a third-quarter loss of $16.2 million and said it is ending a profitable partnership with a local auction company to sell foreclosed homes.
Irvine-based Taco Bell Corp., the largest restaurant chain based in the county, is set to see an undisclosed number of layoffs as its parent company cuts hundreds of jobs.
Tuesday, November 11
Citigroup says it is imposing a moratorium on most foreclosures as part of a series of initiatives aimed at helping at-risk borrowers remain in their homes -- making Citi the latest big bank to announce sweeping efforts to try to curtail losses from souri
Small business owners are losing confidence in the economy and have little hope that recent Federal Reserve interest rate cuts will do much to boost sales, a survey released on Tuesday showed.
NHN USA, an online game developer that recently moved to Irvine, has plans to role out six multiplayer games in the next year or so, including its biggest release yet.
Newport Beach-based life insurer Pacific Life Insurance Co. has released the details of its investments to the public.
Job losses at asset managers could rival layoffs in the last big bear markets of 2001-02 and 1991-92 as investors pull record amounts of money out of mutual funds in the financial crisis, experts say.
The parent company of the Orange County Register is cutting production of its Phoenix-area paper as it deals with an ongoing industry downturn.
Monday, November 10
The war of words between local rivals Emulex and QLogic has gotten louder lately
Allergan is adding more potential drug candidates to its arsenal, in the Healthcare column
FINANCE: Tightened credit, fewer loans could result in combinations
A lawyer who worked for Broadcom Corp. cofounder Henry "Nick" Nicholas has pleaded guilty to evading a banking law and could work with prosecutors as they prepare stock fraud and drug cases against his former boss.
Weeks after rejecting a hostile takeover bid, Irvine device maker Endocare Inc. said Monday it was combining with Galil Medical Ltd., an Israeli company.
Why is OC Democratic party chairman Frank Barbaro smiling? Could it because of Barack Obama? ... This Huntington Beach company is a winner in the surf, but a wipeout on the slopes... In this economy everything is tighter, except maybe, faces? And a Happy
The low-rise office market is attracting businesses looking to cut costs. PLUS, CHARTS - Net Absorption; Vacancy Rates; Average Asking Lease Rates
Former Grubb chairman Tony Thompson has nominated a trio of heavy hitters for the brokerage's board
The government dramatically boosted its bailout of insurer American International Group Inc. and eased the terms of its loans to the company on Monday after an initial rescue plan failed to stabilize the company.
NHN USA wants to be the No. 1 gaming portal in North America
Marshall Advertising and Design has launched an ad campaign for Yamaha Motor Corp, in the Media & Marketing column
Before Making History, Obama Calls Barbaro; Herb Turns 100
Local Branches Expected to Survive JPMorgan Chase's WaMu Takeover
Year-old Eagan O'Malley looks to grab a piece of the market by working on contingency cases for businesses
Irvine's Kofax PLC, a maker of business software, said on Monday is set to move its headquarters to the Irvine Spectrum and increase its square footage by a third.
Circuit City Stores Inc., the No. 2 U.S. consumer electronics retailer, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday just a few weeks before the start of the key holiday shopping season, becoming the largest retailer to file under Chapter 11 this year.
Local Banks' Strategy Vindicated in Crisis, But Some Worry About Worsening Conditions
Commercial printer Tukaiz has opened an Irvine facility to be closer to Taco Bell
Auto dealers may have a better year in '09, in the Marketplace column
Taco Bell is moving its headquarters from the John Wayne Airport area to the Irvine Spectrum
Less than a month after walking away from Wachovia Corp., Citigroup Inc. is in discussions to acquire another U.S. bank, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation.
AMO remains bullish on laser vision surgery amid the slow economy
Deposit Shift, Financial Crisis Reshape Region's Bank Landscape
Irvine-based Taco Bell Corp., the largest restaurant chain operator based in Orange County, has signed a deal to move its headquarters from the John Wayne Airport area to the Irvine Spectrum.
An OC judge recently awarded a local reseller of Cisco gear $6 million in damages, in the Technology column
Treasury Invests in Little Saigon Bank But Not Downey
It remains a tale of two markets when talking about OC housing, in the Real Estate column
Friday, November 7
Pending sales of existing homes fell in September on tighter credit and worsening economic conditions, data from a real estate trade group showed on Friday.
Shares of Santa Ana-based title insurer First American Corp. closed up 18% on Friday on word that two of its rivals are combining.
In the latest installment of the Grubb & Ellis Co. boardroom fight, former chairman Tony Thompson has nominated himself and a pair of heavy hitters for the board of the Santa Ana-based real estate brokerage and investor.
Employers slashed an unexpectedly steep 240,000 jobs from payrolls last month and the jobless rate shot up to a 14-1/2-year high, the government said on Friday in a report underscoring the economy's steep slide.
Ford Motor Co. posted a deeper-than-expected $2.98 billion quarterly operating loss on Friday and told investors it would take aggressive actions to further cut costs as it faces a severe slump in demand.
Thursday, November 6
The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell by 4,000 last week to 481,000, according to a Labor Department report on Thursday that still showed the job market under severe strain.
Anaheim-based mall retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. saw a steeper than expected fall in October sales and warned of a quarterly loss, while Foothill Ranch-based Wet Seal Inc.'s decline came in better than expected.
Toyota Motor Corp., the world's No.1 automaker, warned operating profits will sink to a 13-year low this year, as other carmakers sought more state help to ride out a financial crisis that is crippling demand and squeezing credit around the globe.
Retail chains posted the worst monthly sales data in this decade as consumers stunned by a financial crisis that has derailed the economy cut spending sharply in October.
The Newport Beach office buildings that long have served as the headquarters of Downey Financial Corp. are no longer up for sale, according to the company and real estate sources.
Shares of Santa Ana-based Grubb & Ellis Co. were down nearly 25% in early afternoon New York trading Thursday, after the real estate brokerage and investor reported a loss and said it wouldn't meet 2008 earnings goals because of tough conditions in the co
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International reported third-quarter earnings Thursday that were below Wall Street's estimates.
Italy's Automobili Lamborghini Holding SPA is trying to help reopen its largest U.S. dealership, Lamborghini Orange County, which abruptly closed this week.
Wednesday, November 5
Orange County voters gave John McCain a narrow nod in the presidential race and soundly backed a measure to restrict pension benefit increases, while San Clemente residents said "yes" to a redevelopment project there.
The private sector jobs market deteriorated rapidly in October while the service sector contracted sharply as the worst financial crisis in 80 years hammered the world's largest economy.
The election of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama to the presidency should be a boon to natural gas producers, but the forecast is turning dark for oil and coal industries already coping with falling prices.
Santa Ana-based Corinthian Colleges Inc. on Wednesday reported a quarterly profit Wednesday that met Wall Street's expectations and upheld its outlook for the rest of the year.
Political leaders urged President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday to help forge a new economic order to lead the world out of its worst financial crisis since the 1930s.
Tuesday, November 4
Directors at Irvine's Epicor Software Corp., a maker of business software, on Wednesday rejected for a third time a hostile buyout bid from hedge fund Elliott Associates LP.
UBS AG said a state bailout was helping stem client money outflows, but it needed stable markets to revive its key wealth management business and could take a 6 billion Swiss franc ($5.13 billion) accounting hit this quarter.
Orange County voters headed to the polls Tuesday to weigh in on the historic presidential race, congressional and state races, contentious state propositions and local measures and council races.
Newport Beach-based homebuilder William Lyon Homes Inc. on Tuesday reported a $41.1 million loss for the third quarter, about $19 million less than it lost a year earlier.
Global credit markets showed some signs of a thaw on Tuesday as Australia cut interest rates sharply ahead of expected reductions in Europe later this week, though the deep freeze in bank lending still appeared far from over.
Monday, November 3
Shares of Advanced Medical Optics Inc. surged Monday after Wall Street reacted well to its third-quarter results.
Shares of Anaheim-based Multi-Fineline Electronix Inc., a maker of flexible circuit boards for cell phones and other mobile devices, fell Monday after the company gave a cautious outlook for the current quarter.
Newport European Motorcars is moving from one Newport location to another, in the Marketplace column
A look at people, companies and institutions receiving awards, accolades, grants and other honors
Philippe Vergez wants to change the way women see the world, in the Small Business column
Shaheen Sadeghi's project for downtown San Clemente hinges on Tuesday's election
INSURANCE: Ruling could impact local small firms, sole practitioners
While the OC Register has touched on it, the L.A. Times won't comment on the biggest story in OC media in years, in the Media & Marketing column
Corporate results and outlooks worsened as government officials around the globe pressed efforts to bolster weakening economies, which claimed fresh victims from banks to retailers to manufacturers.
Broadcom could look to snatch up some businesses left dangling by competitors, in the Technology column
An update on the status of Quiksilver's Rossignol sale amid the ongoing credit crisis
Apria Healthcare starts its new life as a privately held company
U.S. factory activity contracted sharply in October, falling to its lowest in 26 years as the financial crisis ravaged the world's largest economy, an industry report showed on Monday.
INSURANCE: Carriers threaten to terminate contracts if not obeyed
How the county's top financial advisers have been dealing with the economic meltdown
REAL ESTATE: Company layoffs putting sublease space back on market
Circuit City Stores Inc. is closing 155 stores and considering all options to restructure its business as it struggles with a deteriorating liquidity position and tighter credit conditions from vendors.
More high-rise office space is up for sublease, in Real Estate Watch. PLUS: CHARTS - Net Absorption; Vacancy Rates; Average Asking Lease Rates
A New York hedge fund has upped its stake in Advanced Medical Optics, in the Healthcare column
Hyundai Motor America has stepped up its marketing to keep its brand atop a chaotic market
Maguire is still looking to offload office properties here
Shea Homes isn't expecting a turnaround in the housing market any time soon, in the Real Estate column