Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Merced, CA:

It wasn't long ago that Andy Krotik was selling houses to out-of-town investors who would sometimes buy two at a time.

Now, Krotik spends his days warily entering abandoned houses, checking for angry holdouts or startled squatters. He wants to make sure the properties are empty and secure so he can sell them for the banks that have repossessed them.


The developer never finished building the neighborhood as demand for new homes vaporized and would-be buyers canceled their contracts. So Sharma's house is ringed by vacant lots and empty houses, and the neighborhood is overrun by dry weeds and brush.

There is a shell of a two-story house across the street. It's become a party house for local teenagers, who occasionally go in with boxes of beer. "When I signed up they said there were going to be new parks, a school," Sharma said.