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You know the real estate beat is hot when The Atlantic Monthly profiles a real estate reporter – in this case, David Streitfeld of the Los Angeles Times, dubbed “Bard of the Bubble” by Atlantic Monthly writer William Powers.

And you know the San Diego real estate market is a hot topic – and not just in Southern California – when the story cited to demonstrate Streitfeld’s mastery of the topic is Streitfeld’s July 17 story, “For San Diego Real Estate, the Skies Are Not So Sunny.”

In that story, Streitfeld contrasts real estate broker David Davis’s ever-positive market outlook with the viewpoints expressed by Rich Toscano, a local financial analyst who frequently writes columns for us at voiceofsandieg.org.

Streitfeld wrote:

Two years ago, Toscano set up a website, http://www.piggington.com, to illustrate the case for a crash with facts, charts and dispassionate analysis. His work has won avid fans, many of whom post on the Piggington chat boards, and some detractors, who call him a bitter renter.

Toscano took Streitfeld for a downtown tour of sorts, pointing out the condo buildings on nearly every corner. Streitfeld cites Toscano’s analysis that there is an 11-month supply of homes for sale in downtown.

Streitfeld quoted Toscano:

“In 2004, if you told people that housing would someday stop appreciating, they’d look at you like you were the equivalent of a nut who was buying gold bullion and storing it in his bomb shelter,” Toscano said.

The Toscano references made it into the Atlantic story, too:

Later in the story, we meet a doubter named Rich Toscano, a San Diegan who is so exercised about the bubble that he’s set up a Web site about the coming crash called piggington.com. “We’ve built a whole economy based on selling each other homes,” he tells Streitfeld. “That’s not sustainable.”

Looks like both Streitfeld at the Times and Powers at Atlantic Monthly recognized that if San Diego is the canary in the coal mine for falling real estate markets in Southern California and across the country, then Rich Toscano is the guy holding the microphone up to the bird’s mouth.

KELLY BENNETT

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