Let's not forget the brokers' handmaidens, the real estate appraisers, who too often buckled under pressure from lenders to overvalue houses.
Paul Demos, a Chicago-based appraiser, accepts some culpability for his trade. "Lenders would tell appraisers, 'This is the value we need for the loan to work,'" he says. "And appraisers would do it." That's kind of the opposite of how they're supposed to work. But, hey, whatever. It's a judgment call, right? Except nobody is exercising any judgment. In comparison with the other participants, though, the appraisers come across as bit players.