Industry Watch


July 25, 2004

Cendant is in talks to sell mortgage unit for up to $1 billion

Cendant Corp., the largest U.S. travel and real estate services company, is in talks to sell its mortgage unit for as much as $1 billion to focus on the hotel and brokerage businesses, executives said last week.

Cendant didn't identify the potential buyer for the unit. The sale would allow Cendant to continue to participate in the mortgage business through its residential real estate and relocation business, the New York-based company said in a statement.

Last month, Cendant spun off Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc., its tax-preparation business, in a public offering that brought in $638 million.

Cendant's real estate unit franchises Century 21 and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerages.

The company also acquires brokerages through NRT Inc. Cendant says it has a hand in one of every four home sales in the United States.

Coldwell names Fredeking relocation services chief

Linda Fredeking, new vice president and director of Coldwell Banker's Relocation Services for the Mid-Atlantic region, is hard to track down.

If she's not in either of her two offices - one in Northern Virginia, the other in Timonium - Fredeking is likely to be in one of the more than 90 Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage offices in the region.

Her appointment, announced Wednesday, puts Fredeking in charge of relocation management programs for businesses that relocate their employees. Clients include the military and federal agencies.

Previously Coldwell Banker's corporate services director, Fredeking is a member of the United Way's Women's Initiative Next Generations society, a group of female philanthropists who use their skills to promote the well-being of women and children.

Freddie Mac raises forecast for home sales this year

Sales of new and previously owned homes probably will total 7.33 million this year, Freddie Mac said this month.

That's more than the 7.25 million it had previously forecast and would exceed last year's record 7.19 million homes sold.

Households' share of pay spent on debts decreased

Households spent less of their earnings on debt payments in the first quarter, the Federal Reserve said Monday.

Total U.S. debt payments fell to 12.98 percent of disposable personal income from 13.06 percent in the last three months of last year. Mortgage debt was 9.6 percent of disposable income, down slightly from the fourth quarter's 9.61 percent and the 9.62 percent of a year earlier.

Price cut to $6.9 million for Winfrey estate in Ind.

Oprah Winfrey has lowered the asking price of her getaway place in Indiana, which has been for sale since September.

The talk-show host's elaborate 164-acre retreat in La Porte County, dubbed The Farm, is listed for $6.9 million, down from the original $8.5 million, said Winfrey's real estate agent, Jane Field.

Citing a confidentiality agreement, Field said she is limited in what she can reveal about Winfrey's motivations, other than to say, "She is spending more time at her home in California."

The 9,700-square-foot main house has been remodeled to expand the kitchen and a sun room and to add two bedrooms.

A guest house has eight bedrooms, and a log cabin in a wooded area is popular with Winfrey's guests, Field said.

Property taxes are $32,000 a year.

A listing on pegs the monthly mortgage payment at a little more than $32,000, presuming a 30-year mortgage at 5.7 percent, with 20 percent down.

From staff, Bloomberg News and Chicago Tribune reports

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