Two years ago, it's fair to say, Casey Serin hit bottom. A bottom lower than most of us could go -- a bottom that would make most of us nauseous and curl into fetal position, whimpering.
A young Uzbekistan expat who grew up in Sacramento eyeing the American dream, Serin observed as a mighty wave of real-estate speculation swept over the state and the country. But when he tried to hang 10, he wiped out. Big time.
Earlier in the decade, at 23, things looked brighter. After flipping his apartment effortlessly, Serin attended a real-estate seminar that reinforced what the experience told him: that making money in real estate was a snap. He began buying single-family homes across the West, some sight unseen, and some with mortgages far in excess of 100 percent.
Serin was trying to play the speculation market, but he was in far over his head. Soon he had eight houses, and most went quickly into foreclosure. When the carnage was over, he was millions of dollars in debt. Through it all, Serin wrote iamfacingforeclosure.com, his notorious blog documenting his own candid, unflinching diary of unceasing failure -- a reliable lightning rod for supporters and "haterz." CNet soon dubbed Serin "the world's most hated blogger," and media like USA Today, NPR, Suze Orman, and ABC Australia took notice. It all sounded so outlandish that the investment site the Motley Fool wondered if Casey Serin wasn't a hoax.
By July 2007, he was coming undone. His marriage was unraveling. The FBI wanted a word with him. The book he'd hoped to publish about the experience was getting bogged down in bad contracts. (In one typical post on iamfacingforeclosure, from January 2007, Serin wrote about how he inadvertently signed away the rights to his story: "I impulsively chose to trust these two ladies again and figured they are looking out for my best interest and would not screw me on this deal, even though I didn't fully understand the implications" he wrote of the contract.)
For his amused, appalled audience, Serin's car-wreck of a life -- impulsive trips to Australia, awful business deals, an increasingly frustrated young wife -- made him the poster child of the subprime real-estate disaster. These days, of course, he's got plenty of company, and condemning his actions isn't so simple anymore.
In an exclusive interview with WalletPop last week over lunch at a Sacramento eatery, Serin spoke extensively for the first time since the end of iamfacingforeclosure about the rocky paths he's chosen. He still seems fully under the sway of the pop-motivational texts that helped encourage him in the first place, saying he strives to live by the living-large rules of bestselling gurus like Robert Kurosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) and Tim Ferriss (The 4-Hour Workweek).
But Serin's next plan is a jaw-dropper. He aims to go off the grid and head to the foothills of Northern California, where he will -- literally, symbolically, unbelievably -- prospect for gold.
Continued on Walletpop.com...