Let's be realistic about current earning expectations. The 4 cents earned beat the 3 cent expectation. If you really follow this stock then you know that this bank has completed, over the last several years, a conversion from holding primarily securities to one now holding primarily loans. They did this during a time when the yield curve was flat or inverted. Earnings will increase over the next several years now that we have the steepest yield curve since mid-2004. Analyst expect earnings of around 16 cents in 2008 and 25 cents in 2009. The 30% reduction in real estate you mention is a National figure. The Northeast has not been affected as severly as other areas of the country like California, Florida etc.
Regarding the buybacks; this bank has stockholders equity exceeding $800 million. Read the Balance Sheet. They don't need earnings or borrowings to fund the buybacks. They have excess capital so they are using that to buyback shares. They sell securities to fund loan growth not buyback of shares. Read the 10K and deal in the facts.