Tuesday, March 01, 2005



SUNNY ISLES, Fla., Feb. 25 - Within six months last year, Carlos and Betti Lidsky bought and sold two condominiums. Then they bought and sold two houses. They say they will clear a half-million dollars in profit, and none of the homes have even been built.

Now Mr. Lidsky, a lawyer, and his wife, a charity fund-raiser, have put down a deposit on a fifth property, a $1.3 million condo in a high-rise under construction, and are planning to sell before the deal closes, without even taking out a mortgage.

"It is much better than the stock market," Mr. Lidsky said. "This is an extraordinary, phenomenally good result."...

Like the day traders of the 1990's dot-com boom, people are investing in a market that seems to just go up. Promoters use Web sites to attract investors, promising quick profits. One site, getpreconstructionprofits.com, is run by a pair of investors who offer online training for $197. On their home page, they say people can earn over $100,000 in six months investing in unbuilt real estate.

Some economists say the influx of investors into the real estate market could have negative consequences.

"Investors are now seemingly buying based on the expectation that house prices are going to grow as rapidly as they have in the recent past, long into the future," said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Economy.com, a private research group. "How quickly and high fixed mortgage rates rise will determine whether the speculative fever in the market just goes flat or whether it caves."

For now, low interest rates are helping to fuel the frenzy.

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