Top cities for 'absentee buyers'

Investors compete for cheap homes in hard-hit markets

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Recently, when my refrigerator was on the fritz, I called my local appliance repairman, a guy who has been keeping every mechanical/electric thing in my house, including dishwasher and washing machine, running smoothly for more than a decade.

When we spoke, I asked, "Since you are coming out here anyway, could you just do a diagnostic on my two rooftop air conditioning units to make sure they are ready for the Arizona summer?"

"No can do," he apologized. "I’m just too busy."