Coping With a Real-Estate Bust

The slump in the housing market has no quick fix — and it could expand into a full-blown recession

Charlie Riedel / AP

The real estate slump has no quick fix, and could expand into a full-blown recession. Here, a For Sale sign stands in front of a home in Lee's Summit, Mo., on September 5, 2007.

The housing market in Detroit is a mess. Such a mess that nobody tries to deny it, not even the real estate agents. "The market is very, very bad," laments Jennifer Weight, hosting a deserted Sunday open house in the suburb of Bloomfield Hills. "It's terrible."

Across the country, in the anti-Detroit that is San Diego, real estate is also slumping. The gloom, however, is far less pervasive. "Yes, it's a troublesome market, but it's not terrible," contends broker Leona Kline.

The reason for the difference in attitude is pretty simple. In metropolitan Detroit, the 11% drop in home prices over...

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