The Hope in America's Foreclosure Capital

In America's foreclosure capital, opportunity — and the lure of the infinity pool — trumps fear

Joe Raedle / Getty

The owner of a realty company talks from the front of a boat to prospective buyers as they motor down a canal during a foreclosure boat tour on March 26 in Cape Coral, Fla.

This is how empires rise and fall, pulling our fortunes along with them. Start with virgin territory: back in 1957, the Rosen brothers of Baltimore flew over Cape Coral, Fla., in a plane, liked what they saw, paid $678,000 for the farmland and started dredging 400 miles (640 km) of canals, which is more than Venice can claim. It was a peaceful place for old people — Cape Coma, folks called it, until about five years ago, when the gold rush began. College kids were waiting tables to buy condos and flip them; speculators got into bidding wars on unbuilt houses;...

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