A Gloomy Christmas for Real Estate?

Peter Coy

The Commerce Dept. put a damper on Christmas for real estate agents today when it announced that new home sales in November fell 11.3% in November, seasonally adjusted, from their October level. It also said that the seasonally adjusted number of unsold new homes at the end of November was 503,000--which is up 22% from a year earlier.

Real estate agents have had a good run. Over the past five years, employment in the sector is up 13%. It's up 19% in residential construction. But if the housing market softens--as is becoming increasingly obvious--2006 will be a lot less cheery.