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Stockton, California: Center of A New Age Gold Rush?

Monday, 24 Sep 2007 | 3:13 PM ET
AP

Today I am in Stockton, California. A lot of what you eat comes from Stockton, a major center of Central Valley agriculture. I wouldn't exactly call it a garden spot, but it has kind of come up in the world as an affordable commuter community for people working in Sacramento or even the Bay Area (an hour and a half away).

These days people here are losing money, as Stockton has become infamous as "The Foreclosure Capital." Several homes here have lawns best described as "foreclosure brown"--they haven't been watered in quite some time. Stockton isn't that far from where gold was first discovered in the Golden State. Ironically, it became a magnet for a new age of prospectors during the real estate boom.

So get this. Over the weekend several foreclosed properties held open houses. We were there. And so were the flippers! After all that's happened, a new wave of speculators has descended, hoping to take advantage of the 10%-15% below market values these homes are selling for. Their plans? Fix 'em up and sell 'em at a profit! To whom, I haven't a clue.

You'll meet some of these new investors Tuesday when I report live from Stockton. Today I will be following around a realtor who's found a way to prosper while his brethen suffer: handling foreclosure sales for lenders. It's not fun nor easy, but it's a living. He acts at times as evictor/appraiser/interior decorator. He actually pays some homeowners up to $3,000 to clean up their homes before moving out. His Blackberry is buzzing like crazy these days.

Oh yeah, Stockton is so well-known now for its mortgage meltdown that even a French TV crew has shown up.

Mon Dieu!

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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