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IQ: Filling the lifeboats

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For years, our economy rode the crest of inflated home prices in a booming real estate market. When the bubble popped and home prices returned earthward, many a homeowner was left thrashing in the deep end.

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Ken Bittancourt
Briargate

Casino employee

Has the foreclosure crisis touched you personally? When my stepdaughter went away to college, we wanted to downsize from our McMansion and move to the Patty Jewett area. We learned, however, that our home is now valued at less than our purchase price.

Will house prices return to levels of five years ago? We have a couple good sources of industry — a high military presence, and a worldwide connection with evangelicals — going for the local economy. I see a full recovery within five years.

Will there be another collapse in house prices in our lifetime? Who can say? There are proposals in Arizona and Nevada to bulldoze entire housing tracts to stabilize prices, and Detroit is already doing it.

What's one piece of advice you have for homebuyers? Avoid schemes like buying and then selling for a profit in six months. That may have worked for a fortunate few five or 10 years ago, but the majority who tried it lost out.

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Tim Croft Peterson
AFB area

Federal employee

What was your last real estate transaction? Re-financing my house in 2006.

Name the worst part of purchasing a house. The paperwork. Understanding what you're doing.

Has the foreclosure crisis affected you? Not personally, but neighbors have lost homes they could no longer afford.

What's at the root of this crisis? In part, unrealistic expectations. It floors me to see people in their mid-20s trying to buy in my neighborhood. I'm 52, and I worked long and hard to get into my home.

Any advice for first-time home buyers? Understand what you're getting into. You could end up with payments two or three times higher than what you start with.

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Deborah Killian
West side

Artist/personal assistant

Has the foreclosure crisis affected you? We're in the middle of trying to sell a house appraised at over $400,000, but we can't find a buyer. They can't get financing. We also narrowly escaped foreclosure on another house and a rental property that we owned until recently.

What's behind the foreclosure crisis? The American Dream got blown way out of proportion. People bought places they couldn't afford.

When will house prices return to levels of five years ago? I'm not sure they ever will. We've seen prices go up and down several times before, but this time it feels different.

Any advice for first-time homebuyers? Don't go in over your head.

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