Casey Serin’s story is being treated as a morality tale of greed and hubris gone wrong. Oh, and maybe a dash of stupidity thrown in. And no doubt there’s a fair amount of that. But reading the story, keep in mind that it was easy access to debt—helped along by a generous federal reserve—that financed this particular production of The Rise and Fall of the Speculator. And that this is just one version of a story being played out across America as the housing bubble deflates.
The rise and fall of Casey Serin is a tale with moral and financial lessons for real estate buyers, lenders and regulators. Having consumed real estate guides and seminars, Serin made just about every mistake a newbie could make — most of them, he admits, were no one's fault but his own — from fudging loan applications to buying homes sight-unseen. That he began with bold dreams of class mobility makes his fall a peculiarly American saga.