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Mortgage woes continue to hamper pending home sales

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Pending sales of existing homes will be dampened near term as mortgage disruptions continue to impact the housing market, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator, fell 6.5 percent to 85.5 from an upwardly revised 91.4 in July, based on contracts signed in August. It was 21.5 percent below the August 2006 index of 108.9.

According to Lawrence Yun, NAR senior economist, fewer contracts were written in August because of mortgage availability issues, and more than 10 percent of sales contracts fell through at the last moment — primarily the result of canceled loan commitments.

“The volume of activity we’re seeing today is below sustainable market fundamentals because some creditworthy people are trying to buy homes but can’t because of the credit crunch,” he said.

Yun further explained that the impact was greatest in high-cost markets that are more dependent on jumbo mortgages. In some areas of the country, as many as 30 percent of signed contracts fell through in August when the credit crunch problem peaked.

“The problem has since become less severe, though jumbo loan rates are still higher than they would be under normal conditions,” Yun said. “Therefore, sales activity in late fall will better reflect market fundamentals.”

In the West, the index fell 2.7 percent in August to 80.3 and was 27.1 percent below one year ago, while the index in the Midwest fell 2.9 percent to 78.1 — 18 percent lower than in August 2006.

In the Northeast, the index fell 8.3 percent to 77.3, a figure that is 18.3 percent below a year ago, while the index dropped a full 9.5 percent to 97.8 in the South, 21.3 percent below August 2006.

The NAR represents more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of residential and commercial real estate.

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Fiber Composites completes purchase of L-P business

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Decking, railing and fencing company Fiber Composites has completed its purchase of Louisiana-Pacific’s (L-P) WeatherBest decking and railing business. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition, announced in July, includes L-P’s WeatherBest brand and a manufacturing facility in Meridian, Idaho.

The 175,000-square-foot facility also will be used to manufacture Fiber Composites’ existing brands, including Fiberon, Veranda and Portico decking and railing systems.

Fiber Composites, based in New London, N.C., was founded in 1997.

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Bombay Company secures financing

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Bombay Company has obtained debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing for $115 million, following an earlier bankruptcy filing with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Fort Worth, Texas.

The troubled specialty home decor retailer will receive DIP financing from GE Corporate Lending and GE Canada Finance.

“We are proceeding with the restructuring plans as outlined in our filings E and we continue to operate our business as usual during this process,” said David Stewart, Bombay CEO.

In its earlier filing with the U.S. District Court, Bombay said it had $239.4 million in assets and $173.4 million in debts as of May 5.

Bombay designs, sources and markets home decor products through 384 retail outlets and an e-commerce site.

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