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Buyers Sailing Toward Home Ownership

The tide may be turning in one hard-hit real-estate area as new opportunities surface for buyers.

In Cape Coral, Fla., a realtor is floating an idea to turn around the sinking housing market: foreclosure boat tours.

Marc Joseph's company, Foreclosure Tours R Us, offers boat tours to prospective buyers who want to be on the waterfront. And now, the idea is catching on.

Florida was "Ground Zero" of the housing crisis in America last year. And Cape Coral was its epicenter. The area had the highest rate of home foreclosures in the country, with one in every 10 houses seized by banks.

But a sea change may be happening there, reports Early Show financial adviser Ray Martin, as buyers flock to Joseph's pontoon boats for a chance to buy properties at rock-bottom prices.

"It's exciting to go out onto a boat and buy something owned by the bank on 35 or 40 cents on the mortgage dollar," said Joseph. "We're not gonna make change one house at a time, we're going to make it one boatload at a time."

And buyers aren't a bit seasick over the prices. Four years ago, the average price of waterfront properties in Cape Coral was more than $300,000, but today, the average is just $85,000.

Investors, snowbirds and people throughout the United States and around the globe are traveling to Florida to hook the best deals on board Joseph's boats. And they're putting in bids -- often over the bank's asking price -- just moments after they dock.

"It's a no brainer," said one eager buyer. "It's on the water, we're focusing on water properties,and we just think it's a great deal."

The tours may also be altering the image of Cape Coral, from the depression of foreclosure to the joy of waterfront ownership.

"This is the best way for people to see Cape Coral from a different perspective," said another buyer. "...I think it's a great idea."

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