Industry News

Gamblers turn to housing

New venues make it possible to wager on home prices

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San Francisco broker-investor Carl Wescott thinks he has a good feel for the real estate market. So when he learned he could speculate on the market at HedgeStreet.com, he took the plunge. Wescott bet $4,000 that the median price of a single-family home in the San Francisco area wouldn't rise above $729,000 in the third quarter of this year. When the National Association of Realtors numbers came out in November, he walked away $5,000 richer. "I had the theory that the single-family residential market in my local area would peak and this was a good way of playing that theory," Wescott said. "I was up 113 percent in only a month's trading." Realtor Wescott, who runs a brokerage called PeopleBridge in San Francisco, is only one of a number of people who are speculating on real estate prices in new ways. We've all heard the expression, "Don't bet the farm," but betting on the housing market is becoming an increasingly popular -- or at least accessible -- option. A number of venues, from o...