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Tom Keene Talks to Metrostudy's Brad Hunter

The real estate researcher sees reasons for optimism in the housing market

Brad, you pride yourself on traveling to subdivisions. What are you observing?

We do drive through all the markets, and what we are finding is that absorption of new homes, meaning people moving into new homes, rose strongly in the first quarter in places like south Florida, Naples, Fort Myers, even the triad of North Carolina. Vacant new homes are down 66 percent from the peak nationwide.

Well, wasn't Fort Myers ground zero in the housing collapse?

In Naples and Fort Myers, 50 percent of the foreclosures that have gotten so much attention are just in two areas of that market known as Lehigh Acres and Cape Coral. If you take those out, things look a lot better.

What about prices?

Well, prices are increasing in certain submarkets and certain communities. And that is happening in markets all around the country, but only where all the stars are in alignment. In northern Virginia, a number of projects are raising prices in Loudoun and Prince William counties.

O.K., there are pockets where things are doing well. Are mortgages genuinely available?

The consumers are really challenged to get loans, and that is one of the main reasons why home sales are not higher than you would expect, given how cheap home prices are and how low interest rates are.

Keene hosts Bloomberg Surveillance 7-10 a.m., 1130 AM in New York, XM129, Sirius 130 .

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