Editor's note: The 10-year run up in real estate values has been one of the most remarkable wealth creators in history. Everyone seems in on the action: first-time home buyers, Realtors, mortgage brokers, office builders, small investors and large corporations. This three-part series focuses on who's taking a piece of the nation's real estate riches. (See Part 1: Agents, homeowners capitalize on home-price gains and Part 2: Builders, mortgage lenders at top of housing wealth chain.) As with the Gold Rush or the dot-com boom, there have always been those in real estate who got in early and built their fortunes with skilled planning or lucky guesses. Their stories are heard the most: rags to riches, newcomer to insider, entrepreneur to profiteer. Everyone who bought a home 25 years ago...
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