What Sam Zell did in commercial real estate—buy up nonperformers and nurse them back to life—a group of Chicago investors are hoping to do in the residential market. They are buying long unsold city and suburban homes from distressed sellers, with plans to rent them out until the sales market picks up again. Liane Pruchnik, the Rubloff agent who scouts properties for the investors, says their aim is to purchase at least 20 properties in the $300,000 to $1-million range. She would not identify the investors nor specify how much money they had to spend. “They’re coming in aggressive,” she says. “They want to buy very, very low.” After all, it worked for Sam Zell.