Riding the housing bust

Riding the housing bust

As home prices continue to skid and foreclosure rates soar (up a further 38% since the third quarter of 2007), something else is happening: Across the country, shrewd investors alert to outrageous bargains are beginning to stir. In California and Florida, thousands of small investors are crowding auction venues; in places like Phoenix and Las Vegas they're grabbing seats on foreclosure bus tours featuring free champagne and onboard massages.

The opportunists range from first-time homebuyers to the most sophisticated of investors; billionaire John Grayken of Lone Star Funds, who made a fortune during the S&L crisis, snapped up $6.2 billion in distressed mortgage-backed securities from Merrill Lynch in July.

Make no mistake, it's likely that we have not bottomed out yet.

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