The Strange Tale of Casey Serin

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I've been wanting to do this post for many, many months, but I've always held back, because I didn't want to give the subject helpful publicity. But now that he's off the Internet (again), I feel OK proceeding.

This is about a young man named Casey Serin who lives in the Sacramento, California area. I first learned about him a little over two years ago when I was on a (rare) business trip and picked up the copy of USA Today sitting in front of my hotel room door. On the front page of the business section was a large photo of Casey with an article about his real estate activities.

By "activities," I mean the purchase of over $2 million in various houses the then-24 year old individual with no meaningful income had purchased. In retrospect, the article about Casey was the most fantastic canary-in-a-coalmine story ever, because it showed how this completely unremarkable person was able to easily get loans (which he himself called "liar's loans") to buy properties, all with the hope of "flipping" them for a profit.

Now, at this point, those of you familiar with Casey are probably interested that I'm even mentioning him (the rest of you are probably wondering where the charts are). The reason this is such an interesting topic to me is, one, how indicative Casey's experience was in the context of the "Emperor has no clothes" mentality of real estate investing during 2002-2006, and two, because of the astonishing subculture that grew up around Casey.

Oh, before I go any further, let me introduce you to the subject at hand (the lovely woman to the left is his wife, who divorced him following all the real estate insanity):

The USA Article described how his properties were in various states of foreclosure (or getting there). While he had obviously intended to make a lot of money (as he frequently referred to it, "passive income") off real estate, it wound up wiping out whatever money he did have, destroying his credit, and, in the end, destroying his marriage.

When the article came out, Casey had started a web site called I Am Facing Foreclosure, which is where the entire subculture really began. His posts were mildly interesting, but the real action (sort of like Slope) was in the comments section. It didn't take long for an army of "haterz" to develop, and over the course of the next couple of years (and a few different blogs under different monikers), a bizarre and contentious relationship developed between Casey and his audience.

There are many, many blogs on the web about Casey's own blog (which has been shuttered………again) but for me the crowning achievement in all of this is Caseypedia, which is a brilliant collection of over 700 (!) articles about everything imaginable regarding Casey Serin – from his car to his hair to the blue ball he used as a chair (which recently appeared for sale on eBay, in an attempt to squeeze a few dollars out of whatever notoriety might remain).

For me, Casey represents everything that was wrong about real estate "investing" in the recent era – – its laziness, overconfidence, and cluelessness. If nothing else, click on the Random Article link on Caseypedia a few times to get a sense of the place. It's brilliant, and my hat is off to its creators.

Oh, and good luck trading today.