The Mortgage Trap

Lenders are cranking out an ever-growing array of financing schemes and lowering standards to keep the housing boom going

Nicki Randolph, a San Francisco real estate agent, hasn't been scared off by talk of a housing bubble. Although she already owns both a home and a condo in Palm Springs, Calif., Randolph just closed on a third property -- dropping more than $1 million on a 1,400-square-foot loft in the heart of San Francisco. How does she juggle so many properties in the overheated California market? Lots of leverage, thanks to banks all too willing to provide ever more.

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