ST. CHARLES, Mo. — The home foreclosure business was very good to Todd Haupt. He started buying and flipping foreclosed houses in 1994, when he was 20, and by 2000 he graduated to building homes.
Mark Schiefelbein for The New York Times
A vacant lot in a half-completed subdivision near Troy, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, is now owned by a bank.
At 32, with just one semester of community college, he owned a BMW, a Corvette and a 5,000-square-foot house worth $1.2 million. He was a creation of the boom. “I was on top of the world,” Mr. Haupt said recently.
Then, last May, the real estate market stopped booming.
Now Mr. Haupt’s house is in the hands of his creditors, as are the cars, three small office buildings and 89 lots he bought in a subdivision in neighboring Lincoln County.
He owes about $6 million in personal and business debt, and as Mr. Haupt’s fortunes soured, so have those of plumbers, electricians, framers, landscapers, supply stores and others that relied on his business, which he estimated at $300,000 per month.
“And that’s just little bitty me,” he said.