US subprime crisis: all aboard the foreclosure bus

CENTREVILLE, August 25, 2008 (AFP) – Have a little money saved up? A few hours to kill? Why not take a new kind of tour — to peruse the bank-seized properties of homeowners fallen on hard times? The tour is free, soft drinks and donuts are included, and you might just make a killing on the wounded US real estate market.

“Hi, how is everybody doing today? I am Tommy and this is Sheri,” said Tommy Burch, a real estate agent who with his wife has been conducting three-hour “Foreclosure Bus Tours” every weekend for the past four months.

“We have got about 12 to 14 properties we are going to see today. We are going to try to keep moving very quickly,” he said, addressing his passengers from the front of the 12-seat bus, just like a tour guide.

The Burches have an unusual criteria for selecting properties to show: all of them have been seized by the bank.

Months, maybe weeks ago, these homes were still inhabited by families who fell victim to the inflated prices and risky lending practices of the US real estate boom.

Now the banks that repossessed them, in a desperate search for cash, are selling them for a song.

Buyers are making out like bandits, according to Tommy Bur