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SUNDAY PROFILE

The housing market's Mr. Objective

People rely on John Karevoll for analysis of real estate trends. But that doesn't mean they don't call him names.

September 23, 2007|David Streitfeld | Times Staff Writer

Karevoll has his critics. Charlie Ryan, an airline pilot then living in Ventura, took issue in May 2005 with the analyst's assertion that "indicators of market distress are still largely absent." Ryan argued in an e-mail to Karevoll that the prevalence of interest-only loans was in itself an indication of distress because it meant people couldn't afford more-conservative mortgages.

"Statements like this will come back to discredit you in the coming years," Ryan wrote.

Two years later, the downturn well underway, Ryan sent the whole exchange back to Karevoll, adding, "Thankfully, I sold as your firm was recklessly cheerleading." Ryan now lives in Maryland.

"The drumbeats of doom are relentless," Karevoll acknowledges. Some of the names he's called on the Internet can't be quoted in a newspaper.

Karevoll tries to ignore the blogosphere, saying, "Good questions get raised there, but I don't think they get answered." In any case, he adds, "predictions of imminent doom started in 2001. If you listened then, you were out a bucket of money."

david.streitfeld@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

His personal data

Who: John Karevoll, chief analyst for real estate research firm DataQuick

Age: 56

Birthplace: Minneapolis

Education: Degree in media studies from Hogskolen i Volda, Norway

Ambition: Hiking all 211 miles of the John Muir Trail from Yosemite Valley to Mt. Whitney

Concession he made to his wife, Kari, in return for getting permission to fly ultralight planes: Ballroom dancing classes

Second home: An apartment in Oslo, where he and Kari spend several months a year. They also inherited a small farmhouse north of Oslo.

Political cause: Trying to reverse the privatization of public land. "If I drive to our local high school to watch a basketball game and stop on the way to enjoy the view, I can be ticketed and fined $5,000 or put in jail for six months."

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