Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nevada's Economic Misery May Be America's Future

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Ryan Grim

So many homes in Las Vegas have been foreclosed upon that banks rarely bother to hang a "For Sale" sign on the front lawn anymore. Instead, visitors identify bank-owned properties by the brown grass and the 8.5 x 11-inch sheet of paper taped to the front door or the garage.

On a cul-de-sac in the once-pleasant neighbourhood of Silverado Ranch, Larry Wood is the last remaining resident. Two of the four homes are in foreclosure and a third is a "party rental" only occupied by rowdy tourists on weekends. One of his neighbours made a few bucks before abandoning the home, he says. "They sold all the palm trees and just walked away from it," says Wood, sporting a "Freedom Isn't Free" T-shirt. "It's a great neighbourhood. I guess that people weren't financially set up to get through the crash."

Wood takes little comfort in being the last resident. "Sometimes it's scary. There's a possibility someone would try to rob me and I wouldn't have any neighbours to help me," he says, recounting a previous attempted intrusion when his then-neighbour called to warn him not to answer the door because there was a group of thugs knocking. Armed and ready, he huddled near the door but the gang gave up and left.

Walking away is becoming a habit among law-abiding residents too. It's hard to find a home bought before 2009 that isn't underwater and very few landlords, when running credit checks, look for foreclosures or short-sales on a tenant's record. Otherwise, a manager couldn't fill a building.

Nevada's Economic Misery May Be America's Future

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