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house_flipping_auction(MCT)—Seasoned real estate investor Kurt De Meire led an eager group of students on a field trip to a recent foreclosure auction. He wanted to show them how to flip homes — find bargains and resell them quickly at a profit.

At one point, he nonchalantly pulled an item out of an envelope from one of his clients, an investor who couldn’t make it to the Pomona, Calif., auction that morning. The newbies ogled it.

It was a cashier’s check for $1 million.

“There will be millions of dollars of real estate sold here,” De Meire says, gesturing toward veteran bidders in T-shirts and jeans as the auctioneer began rattling off property addresses. “These people would not be here if they weren’t getting good deals every day.”

The house-flipping frenzy of the mid-2000s, glamorized on TV reality shows such as “Flip This House” and “Flipping Out,” helped drive up prices to unrealistic heights before the housing bubble burst. Since then, however, investors paying cash for distressed properties have been credited with helping the real estate recovery.

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