A Washington Post article today mentions signs of cutbacks in the region's real estate-related economy:
In recent months, companies have begun cutting back in big ways and small. A Prince George's County builder laid off four workers and turned off the spigot for new projects. A four-person title company in Arlington is cutting its staff by one after watching business fall. A Fredericksburg drywaller let his 10 employees go and is struggling to keep the business afloat.
Individually the cuts are not large, but collectively they are beginning to add up across the region. Economists estimate that the real estate industry accounts for 12 to 15 percent of the jobs in the Washington area.
. . .
At Key Title's Arlington office, the number of closing documents it processes each month has dropped from 100 three years ago to 35, according to Jay Eskovitz, a settlement agent. To cope with the loss of business, one of the four positions at the office will be converted to part time.
. . .
Other indicators portend prolonged woes in employment related to real estate. The number of construction permits in the Washington region is projected to be about 24,000, down more than one-third from 38,000 in 2005, according to Moody's Economy.com.
. . .
Kilby, a member of the fourth generation in his family to work in the building industry, has cut prices on his homes in subdivisions of Prince George's and Charles counties. The new homes are built with luxury finishes like granite countertops, crown molding and large spa tubs -- the kinds of bells and whistles people were demanding when credit was easy to come by and his sales offices were full of prospective buyers. Now that it's become harder for home buyers to obtain loans, he's stuck with expensive houses on expensive lots that he is struggling to sell.
"We're doing just about anything we can do to get people into a house, said Kilby, a 50-year veteran of the home-building business. "And these are people we would have told to take a hike last year or the year before last."