There's no soft way to say it: Investors who consistently favored real estate and mortgage-related stocks lost their shirts in 2007. As a group, the 10 companies that comprise the hypothetical Inman Index of such stocks lost more than half their value in the just-ended one-year period. By comparison, investors who stuck with the Dow Jones Industrials, Standard & Poor's 500 or NASDAQ Composite indices fared far better. Those three market measures gained a strong 6.1 percent, modest 3.1 percent and attractive 9.5 percent, respectively, last year. The two hardest-hit groups among the Inman Index were mortgage lenders and home builders. Countrywide Financial and IndyMac Bancorp were caught in the subprime loan tsunami that swept through the sector in the second half of the year while build...
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