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Okay, I’m late to the game on this story, but it’s worth blogging about regardless. On August 24, the New York Times business section published an incredible story about Merced California, one of the hardest hit places in the foreclosure crisis.

In light of the last few weeks on Wall Street, and the fact that regular potential homeowners seem to be dropping out because they can’t get suitable lending terms, it’s easy to imagine plenty of other places turning into Merced County: essentially, a land of ghost towns that never actually lived. “As Merced goes, so might go much of the nation,” states the article. Yeah, this one’s bleak folks. Sorry. Here’s more from the New York Times story:

In the three years since housing peaked here, the median sales price has fallen by 50 percent. There are thousands of foreclosures on the market. The asking prices on those properties are so low that competitive bidding, a hallmark of the boom, is back.

But almost no homeowner can afford to sell. If you cannot go as low as “the foreclosure price” — the cost of a comparable bank-owned house — real estate agents say you might as well not even bother listing your home.

And so most people do not: three out of four existing-home sales in Merced County are now foreclosures, the highest percentage in the state, according to DataQuick Information Systems. The only group for whom selling makes sense, real estate agents here say, are the elderly entering assisted-living facilities, who often have decades of appreciation built into their home’s value.

If you’re still not depressed, check out the accompanying slide show.