World's Most Hated Blogger

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Could IamFacingForeclosure.com be closing? Last week Casey Serin, 24, the real estate entrepreneur he would stop blogging in a month to save his marriage and get a job.
Like many of his blog entries since Serin started in Septemeber 2006, this July 11 announcement was met with derision. Within a day he had 261 comments, mostly flaming missives that call him either a lawyer or unemployable.
CNET has called Serin “the

Could IamFacingForeclosure.com be closing? Last week Casey Serin, 24, the real estate entrepreneur he would stop blogging in a month to save his marriage and get a job.

Like many of his blog entries since Serin started in Septemeber 2006, this July 11 announcement was met with derision. Within a day he had 261 comments, mostly flaming missives that call him either a lawyer or unemployable.

CNET has called Serin “the most hated blogger in the world.” He is the other side of the real estate meltdown.

Newspaper stories on the housing meltdown are usually filled with sympathetic characters, grandmas and hard-working parents losing their homes to sleazy brokers, innumeracy or bad fortune.

Casey’s story is much different. He is the posterchild of why people don’t want to spend taxpayer money on bailing out people in foreclosure. Starting in October 2005, he bought eight houses, some near his Sacramento home, but many sight-unseen out-of-state, in hopes of flipping them for easy profit.

He made $30,000 on the first house—but only by agreeing to buy the house of his buyer, a house he couldn’t even rent for enough to pay his mortgage.

“I became a desperate seller,” he said in an interview with AOL. He kept buying houses to dig himself out, like a gambler who keeps trying to win back his losses.

He freely admits that he lied on his loan applications, about both his income and other mortgages, which eventually totaled over $2 million.

“I took advantage of loophole in system and I’m not proud of it,” he says. “I was taking advantage of stated income loans,” also known as “liar loans.”

Guess what? It didn’t work out. Instead he has lost five of the houses to foreclosure. (He made a small profit on two and someone assumed one of the mortgages.) Since the banks had to sell the houses for a loss, he estimates he will end up about $500,000 in debt, including credit card bills.

With only a high school degree, Serin’s formal education in real estate is limited to a few of those books that encourage anyone that they can make a fortune in real estate, some Carleton Sheets DVDs bought on late night TV and the expensive seminars of Russ Whitney.

“The money [for the classes] came from using credit cards, mostly my wife’s,” he says. “She wasn’t sure but I said ‘Hey, look I’ll make it work.’ I tried to do it too fast too hard.”

Serin is a lot like the day-traders of the tech stock bubble: young men saw asset prices rising wildly and felt foolish for not getting their share of this easy money. They took a few classes and somehow thought they could compete against the pros. The day traders borrowed money through margin accounts and sometimes quit successful careers. When the market turned south and they lost all their money, they felt foolish again.

The main difference between Serin and daytraders is that the people who lost money by being greedy in the market seldom admitted their folly. Serin’s blog exposes his own greed and other faults. And in return his gleefully eviscerate him in comments on his site, in emails and even in several anti-Serin sites.

If nothing else the blog provides a glimpse to the shady underbelly of the real estate market, all the shady characters who encouraged or at least allowed a kid with no proof of a job to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time. If there was some kind of get rich quick scheme in real estate, Serin probably tried it.

There are the mortgage brokers that would tell him how much money he would have to say he made to get the loan. “Oh, yeah, they knew what I was doing,” Serin says. “They’re making a quick commission off of it.”

There was a “wholesaler,” a type of real estate investor who does nothing but find houses for others to flip. Often the deals are in contract already. Serin paid him $7,000 to get in on it. Guess what? The deal wasn’t so good; the house needed far more repairs than the wholesaler estimated.

“He was more experienced,” Serin says. “He was figuring I would do the repairs myself, so my costs were a lot more and I think he didn’t take that into account.”

There were “lead generation companies” that provided lists of people who potentially wanted to sell their homes to eager real estate investors.

There was a New Mexico builder who offered to lease the house back from him for nine months—essentially making the first nine months of mortgage free.

There was another homeowner who offered him a $30,000 cash rebate—which he used to pay his other mortgages.

When it all unraveled, he started his blog. He claims that he makes about $3,000 to $4,000 a month of advertising. But the attacks from his readers have gotten too personal. “The haters,” as Serin calls them, even update a wikipedia entry for Serin with information like “He flew to Australia in June of 2007 for several weeks, leaving his wife with little to no financial support.”

For a while Serin hoped the blog would develop to his next career through a book. Instead he gave over the rights to the book to settle a lawsuit, he said in a recent blog post. He used to make $50,000 a year as an web designer and hopes to go back to that. Or, he says, maybe he can get a job in real estate.

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