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by CareyBot

Editor's note: How bad will the real estate market get before it gets better? Inman News compiles the facts and analysis in this five-part series. (Read Part 2, "Vendors cope with real estate downturn"; Part 3, "Market forces, regulators threaten credit crunch"; Part 4, "Investor worries rise"; and Part 5, "Diminished role for GSEs, FHA.") Speculation, rampant building, risky loans, overborrowing and escalating prices propelled the housing market to an unprecedented peak -- and are now counted among its greatest failings. The "soft landing" that so many analysts and economists had predicted has given way to a record number of foreclosures, an implosion in the subprime lending market, an oversupply of housing, and home-price declines in many market areas. The dreamy days of the housing boom...