'NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Dave Corey has been flipping houses on the side for nearly 30 years, but the latest slump in the real estate market is taking its toll.
His latest struggle: Unloading a ranch in Ocala, Fla., with three bedrooms, two baths and a two-car garage.
He thought it would be a quick buy, rehab and sell transaction. Instead, it's been buy, rehab...and sit. For 10 months.
Before moving to Florida in the early 2000s, Corey's main income came from his used Saab sales and service dealership in Vermont. He sold out and moved south where he earned good money flipping houses at the height of the boom.
"I made $80,000 in the first four months of 2005 and didn't kill myself [working too hard]," he says.'
But then, the music stopped. And then the BIG revelation: Most of the buyers during the boom were OTHER Flippers! Truly shocking, I say.
'A few years ago, Ocala, a small (under 50,000 population) central Florida city, was a hot spot for investors, mainly Northerners, according to Corey. Those buyers have flown back north. "I don't see where any new investors are coming in," he says.'
Now it sounds like the guy knew what he was doing - buying really bad properties and fixing them up. After all, he's been doing this for 3 decades.
'Corey's plan had been to follow the strategy honed in Vermont. Describing himself as a "hands-on guy," Corey looks for places that are structurally sound but in some stage of disrepair or ones that need an upgrade. Houses owned by estates are often good, because the heirs don't want to live there; they just want to get the money out of the property quickly.
Sometimes, the places look like bombs went off in them.
"I took my wife, Sharon, to one of the first houses I bought down here [in Florida]," says Corey. "She went in and said, 'Oh gosh. Let's get out of here.'"
Corey had to convince her that was just what he wanted; a place that looked terrible but that had a good roof and a solid foundation.'
But it appears he didn't follow his own methodology - instead he got caught up in the mania and overpaid for his last investment - the house in question won't be worth what he paid for AT LEAST a decade or more. Based on history, the place is worth about $100K right now. Bad, bad decision - on the price paid and on the timing.
'After paying $146,000 in January of 2006, he's now out of pocket $160,000 including closing costs and renovations, he said. The list price of $178,900 has drawn zero interest. '
At least I'll give him credit for admitting his failure to the national media. When you see experienced veterans of the housing market get burned like this, just imagine what it's like for all the amateur investors out there, who bought in 2004-2006. It's an ugly scene, and we're only in Act I of this tragedy.
Oh, and before I forget: this week celebrates the 6th Month Anniversary of Florida - Paradise Lost. Thanks to all the posters and readers. We'll keep up the good fight.