Is the U.S. Real Estate Bubble Set to Burst? "Become a Millionaire in a Weekend" was the theme of a real estate expo that drew 10,000 people to the Los Angeles Convention Center over the weekend. But some real estate experts warn that the current market may be a high-priced "bubble" about to burst, similar to the dot-com collapse. Guest host and News & Notes correspondent Farai Chideya reports on the expo and speaks with two experts on real estate and home ownership issues.

Is the U.S. Real Estate Bubble Set to Burst?

Is the U.S. Real Estate Bubble Set to Burst?

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"Become a Millionaire in a Weekend" was the theme of a real estate expo that drew 10,000 people to the Los Angeles Convention Center over the weekend. But some real estate experts warn that the current market may be a high-priced "bubble" about to burst, similar to the dot-com collapse. Guest host and News & Notes correspondent Farai Chideya reports on the expo and speaks with two experts on real estate and home ownership issues.

FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

From NPR News, this is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya. Ed Gordon is away.

Become a millionaire in a weekend. That was the theme of a recent real estate wealth expo that drew 10,000 people to the Los Angeles Convention Center. But some real estate experts are warning the market may be a high-priced bubble about to burst. Shortly we'll speak with Motoko Rich, who covers real estate for The New York Times, and Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, who runs home-buying programs through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

But first, here's what attendees and teachers at the expo had to say.

Ms. NICOLE WITHERS(ph) (Property Manager): I just actually closed on duplexes this past Friday.

CHIDEYA: When she isn't buying investment real estate, Nicole Withers is a property manager. She also works with people at risk of losing their homes to foreclosures.

Ms. WITHERS: I heard one speaker, he was saying, you know, about helping people, helping people not lose their homes, you know, and still make money at the same time, and that's what I'm doing. I like to make money, of course, and I like to help people.

CHIDEYA: And she's only 28. But Withers wasn't the youngest person at the expo. Chris James(ph) is just 21. He owns one property and is buying two more.

Mr. CHRIS JAMES: When I was 16 years old, I wanted a car. My brother owned a car actually and I wanted it, so for me to get the car, he made me read "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," and so eventually after I read that book, you know, not only did I get a car, I got something better than that. I got the mind-set to, you know, think big and basically retire young, and that's what got me into real estate.

CHIDEYA: The expo featured keynote speakers from Donald Trump to Russell Simmons. Reggie Brooks(ph), a Compton, California, native, taught a seminar on buying abandoned houses.

Mr. REGGIE BROOKS: Now in the early days, real estate didn't mean very much to me. It was only when I got a dead-end job working for a boss that didn't appreciate my efforts that I started looking around for other opportunities, and I looked at real estate.

CHIDEYA: Brooks cautions people against investing before they understand the risks.

Mr. BROOKS: Visualize yourself taking your son to school and your son is maybe eight years old and you take him to school for three months straight and he's had a chance to sit in the passenger seat and watch you drive this car. He watches you manipulate the brakes and the gas and the steering wheel and the gear shift, and so you ask him, `Hey, Junior, can you drive?' What do you think he's gonna say? He's gonna say, `Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah. I can drive. I can drive.'

CHIDEYA: One hopeful investor, Maria Elena Gill(ph), also had a word of caution.

Ms. MARIA ELENA GILL: It feels to me a lot of the times like I'm in a giant info commercial, so still I'm like--even though I'm, like, being open-minded to this kind of different culture, I'm still kind of not that comfortable with it.

CHIDEYA: But for Nora Arroyo(ph), another hopeful real estate millionaire, anything seems possible.

Ms. NORA ARROYO: It's opening my mind. They're letting us know it's about the mind-set, it's about what I think I can achieve, and that's where it's at.

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