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Thread: For many, gamble lost in once-booming Las Vegas

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default For many, gamble lost in once-booming Las Vegas



    For many, gamble lost in once-booming Las Vegas - Yahoo! News

    LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AFP) – Earlene Howard is the only person left living in a house on her block in Sin City, and she's not sure how much longer she'll be there as the once booming Las Vegas housing market continues to spiral downwards.

    The rest of her neighbors have seen their homes repossessed by lenders, and she's already behind two months on her mortgage after her husband lost his job with a local construction company.

    "I think we may need to move back to Denver," said Howard, 42, who uprooted to Las Vegas in 2005 because jobs were plentiful here then. "This city is not in good shape. Not at all."

    Howard lives in the epicenter of America's prolonged economic downturn.

    The once-booming Las Vegas region has for 44 straight months led the United States in home foreclosures, and 80 percent of houses here are figuratively underwater -- worth less than the debt owed on them.

    A staggering 23.6 percent of Nevada mortgages are in some form of delinquency or foreclosure, significantly higher than the national average of 14 percent, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

    It's a confusing, devastating turn of events for a city that for two decades was the sterling example of an American boom town.

    With only some brief pauses, this gambling and convention destination has enjoyed continuous visitor increases and population growth since 1989, when the first mega-resort, The Mirage, opened on the Las Vegas Strip.

    Nevada's population has since more than doubled to 2.6 million residents and the Vegas casino-hotel sector has exploded to more than 148,000 rooms.

    In the middle of the last decade, there was no place in America where real estate speculation ran so rampant and where prices surged so quickly.

    Yet the Las Vegas economy is based on tourists coming to spend disposable income, and when the rest of America began feeling the pinch, visits plummeted.

    It hit its record at 39.1 million visitors in 2007, but by 2009 the city greeted 36.3 million, a seven percent drop. Gambling revenues fell even more, 19.2 percent in the same span.

    "It's the worst experience over the longest period of time," said Alan Feldman, spokesman for MGM Resorts International, which owns 10 casinos on the Strip including the Bellagio and the Aria.

    Vegas got a taste of financial difficulty in the weeks and months after the September 11, 2001 attacks when American fears and shaken confidence caused air travel and hotel room demand to shrivel.

    "But this is lasting longer and has taken on a different profile," Feldman said of the current downturn.

    Indeed, foreclosures and debt problems aren't simply impacting homeowners but also major hotel-resort corporations.

    The most obvious and damning example is the Fontainebleau Las Vegas, planned as a five-billion-dollar resort to open this year that instead stands nearly finished but idling on the Strip skyline, at a cost of three million dollars.

    The builders ran out of money last year, so the hulking, glass-coated structure was sold to investor Carl Icahn, who earlier this month auctioned off the furnishings intended for the building.

    Observers took that as a sign he has no plans to complete the resort.

    Amid the boom, home buyers feasted on cheap, complicated mortgages and expected the value of their homes to rise such that they could refinance in the future.

    Instead, the values deflated as the national economy kept tourists away, leading to unemployment in Nevada that is now a record 14.7 percent.

    "We enjoyed a disproportionate upside, and so we got that much more excess that's got to get rid of," said real estate agent Jack LeVine. "I always counseled people that this couldn't go on forever."

    There are some signs of recovery, but they are faint.

    Visits to Las Vegas were up in August for the 12th consecutive month, although that also may reflect huge cuts in room rates as well as other promotions.

    "The spending is where it's taken longer to recover," said Kevin Bagger, director of market research for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

    "Visitors are not spending as freely when they get here. That has taken longer."

    LeVine said he's seeing some improvement, too, at least in terms of the number of homes he's selling. Almost all are bank-owned, however, and the prices are much lower.

    "I've had many months of zero homes sold in the last three years," LeVine said.

    "I'm not having a problem selling the houses now whatsoever. We're having trouble getting them closed, getting the banks to provide the money. And their values are far below what they once were."

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    yep. i wouldn't buy there for nothing! and yet i know people buying homes there right now - to rent out. still, feels shaky to me.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    It should never have been a boom town. It's in the middle of the desert.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy2.0 View Post
    It should never have been a boom town. It's in the middle of the desert.
    I think it put a big strain on that reservoir that Nevada shares with Colorado and two other states.

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    Gold Member eboni's Avatar
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    [quote=twitchy2.0;2278232]It should never have been a boom town. It's in the middle of the desert.[/quote
    All of southern California is in the middle of the desert which is why we have water problems and have to steal it from northern Calif and Colorado. Yes, we desert states do have our problems...
    ...Stopped smoking on March 8, 2011. Was trying to put a fancy ticker in my signature but it didn't work...

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    ^ omg lol I just read that what you said and its true! still i wouldn't live in vegas for nothing! i hate it there.
    Quote Originally Posted by MohandasKGanja View Post
    I think it put a big strain on that reservoir that Nevada shares with Colorado and two other states.
    well thats similar to los angeles; we practically steal our water from other sources, drying up the places along the way.

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AliceInWonderland View Post

    well thats similar to los angeles; we practically steal our water from other sources, drying up the places along the way.
    I get the impression, though, that Los Angeles has essentially been "built out", while infrastructure (new residences and commercial facilities) in Las Vegas was still expanding dramatically until just a few years ago.

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    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    Friend of mine moved from Syracuse to Vegas in 2005 also...he lost the first job (the one that brought him there) but has since gotten another, luckily. He loves it, but is sad to see how it has gone down, even in such a short amount of time.

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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    What really amazes me is how ugly so many of those new houses in Vegas are. Packed onto small lots, many of them cookie cutter, drab earth tones and nearly all snout houses-houses that are dominated by ugly garages that stick out like ugly snouts closer to the street than any other part of the house. Like they are really just big garages that happen to have a house attached to the back of them.

    Ugh!. Alot of new home construction is like this, but Vegas seems to be especially good at making really ugly ones, and lots of them.

    *and damn, near 15% unemployment is really depression level, isn't it?

    Gotta feel bad for the people out there who did not realize that for every boom, for every 'bubble'(like the real estate bubble), there is always an eventual bust.

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sojiita View Post
    What really amazes me is how ugly so many of those new houses in Vegas are. Packed onto small lots, many of them cookie cutter, drab earth tones and nearly all snout houses-houses that are dominated by ugly garages that stick out like ugly snouts closer to the street than any other part of the house.
    I was really taken aback by the Huffington Post photo essay today showing some of the houses from the Vegas real-estate collapse. Literally, it looked like some of them were two-car garage units with a tiny little "house" portion affixed to the side (or the back almost).

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    IIRC, the big attraction at one time is that there's no state income tax?
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    Elite Member Mr. Authority's Avatar
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    Shit I didn't even know people lived in Las Vegas, I thought it was just one of those resort towns where people traveled to for vacation/work/whatever. lol

    No but really it's sad to see it struggle because a lot of people work in tourism and that's all they can depend on.

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    Elite Member KandyKorn's Avatar
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    I worked in the construction industry & our biggest customers were the home builders in Vegas...damn it was a great 10 years! Of course, when the market fell out, I lost my job. I have many friends & relatives in Vegas who also lost their jobs over a year ago & still haven't foound another one. Sad, sad situation.
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    Elite Member Daphne's Avatar
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    I was born and raised in Las Vegas but I moved to the DC metro area 4 years ago and I haven't looked back. I always thought it was a very depressing place, even before the recession hit.

    My parents and sister still live in Vegas, but they all have very good, well paying casino jobs. They've told me that all of their casinos are still very busy--so busy, in fact, that they are often working 6 sometimes 7 days a week. The casinos used the recession as an excuse to fire a lot of people and then hire them back on the extra board, meaning they can work them as many hours a week as they want without giving them benefits. My family has been lucky in that they've been kept on as full-time and still have all of their benefits.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    i could never work in a casino w/ the cigarrette smoke, no natural light and noise.

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