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Tonight, look for the telltale signs that houses on your street are haunted.
No, not the toothless guy in the attic window, swinging a lantern and cackling madly. I’m talking about the for-sale sign out front with the “just reduced” banner across it. The strangely empty living room, because all the family’s income is paying the recently reset mortgage instead of buying furniture. The brochure for the house that they hand out to trick-or-treaters.
David Rosenberg of Merrill Lynch says that at least 10 million households who bought since the summer of 2005 are now underwater on their investments. So if the people who open the door tonight when you come knocking look like they’re quietly drowning—maybe they really are.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.