Live from the Foreclosure Front Lines …

by , Apr 13, 2009 | 11:32 am

LV Neighborhood It was a not-so-happy Easter for one family a few houses from Pokerati’s LV headquarters, where some foreclosures are proving to be messier than others. Not sure how exactly it all went down, but big trucks arrived at 7 am, along with some angry door knockers … the occupants either ran off or were chased off … it coulda been a rental boot — where the owner gets foreclosed on, and the tenants, who may well have been paying rent on time, are suddenly on the streets. Whatever it was, there was lots of early-morning screaming and children crying, suggesting it was not an amicable move-out. Of the dozen or so “aggressive evictions” in Pokerati’s tiny 4-block compound over the past year, few have ended with furniture being tossed from windows. There are stories in some neighborhoods of angry former-owners absolutely trashing their places before they depart — like busting drywall and smashing cabinetry — so the bank takes over a place that is practically totaled … and other stories of people pouring cement down their toilets to destroy plumbing systems.

Anyhow, while visitors to the Strip may be noticing slightly smaller crowds and cheaper prices, this is what’s been going on for the past year or so in the areas where the people who work the Strip live. Even if you’re not subject to some component of it — and I don’t really know anyone who hasn’t been in some capacity — there’s so much tilt in this town right now … every once in a while someone just loses it.

LV Neighborhood

(In my very amateur economic opinion, this is just the backside of a wave … one that’s headed to the central time zone next. Not to be an alarmist, but when I went home to Dallas over the Christmas holidays, people were talking flippantly about economic conditions and spending money far more care-freely than seen with any locals here. But now, talking to some of these same folks … they’re saying and seeing things that remind me of what people were saying in Las Vegas a year ago.)

Too bad, too, for this house, because it seemed like things were turning around … or at least the descent was slowing. You still see either a For Sale or For Rent or Bank-Owned sign, or front-door lock-box and No Trespassing signs on one out of every four or five houses or so in my neighborhood. But gone are the blocks of foreclosed homes — like three or four together in a row. Supposedly they’re being bought up by California investors, who may see the potential of tearing them down and someday building bigger houses … Of course to do that, they’ll have to get through an increasingly militaristic homeowners association, who find themselves in a weak position when someone shows up with cash in hand and long-term plans that differ from what theirs were when they first bought into the hood.

LV NeighborhoodThese houses went up in 2006. It must have seemed like a great investment at the time … the neighborhood is 5 miles from Bellagio with an elevated view of the Strip on one side, and a beautiful snow-capped mountain range on the other. It seemed the perfect set-up for first-time home buyers and up-and-coming real estate landlords acquiring rental properties. With the 215 being widened, the casino dealers, strippers, myriad service workers, big-show back-up singers, and blue-collar families who moved in had a quick route to the Strip and smooth road the other way out to Red Rock our into the mountains. The shopping centers were (and still are) going up at least close to original plan … new traffic lights, Starbuck’s … it all seemed to be rising so beautifully, and with plenty of tourist money in everyone’s pockets, developers were more than happy to work out whatever crazy financing was necessary to fill their homes, so they could bring in the other developers … That must seem like forever ago … now it’s simply a fight to keep the neighborhood from falling into shambles as so many people in this ever-transient city get their asses handed to them on the way out the door.

But oh well … good pluckings for the new packs of foreclosure scavengers who have replaced the fervent garage-sale shoppers of 2007-early 2008 — and the garbage men come on Tuesday.

7 Comments to “Live from the Foreclosure Front Lines …”

  1. Vinny B.

    Here is a laugh for you. My law school buddy and I went out to Vegas for a weekend of poker playing nonsense. He brought $4,000 or so and I brought about $3,500. We split up on Saturday afternoon and when we met back at the hotel he was holding over $9,000 and I was a little over $7,500. We agreed that I would hit Bellagio and he would hit the Venetian and that we would go for broke and if we ended up with $25,000 total we would pool it for a down payment on a place. Come Sunday night, we had a shade under $28,000 between us. (I never played stakes that high before and played so tight I was able to steal some huge pots on missed draws, hands I would normally check and surrender the pot). We extended our stay, looked around, and with a third investor, we basically stole a sweet joint for $130,000.

    I am telling you that anyone smart enough to buy as much as they can low right now will clean up one day.

  2. DanM

    Nice! So that’s it … you’ve picked up and moved to Vegas?

    If not, depending on the neighborhood, I know some WSOP people seeking rentals.

  3. Banasko

    what are the best zip codes to buy a place in?

  4. Banasko

    to expand… Plenty of foreclosures 2+ beds for only $125,000 or so…

  5. Johnny Hughes

    Great reporting and writing, Jen. Kudos. This really brings home what is happening better than what I have seen on the TV news. Here in Lubbock, you hear the same brave booster, whistling in the graveyard talk about how the hard times won’t hurt Texas much. Bull!

    Duck your heads, we are going through a tunnel. As Benny Binion liked to say, “Tough times make tough people.”

  6. DanM

    Let me disagree with you on the great reporting comment, Johnny. This was written observationally off-the-cuff, with very little fact-checking and/or research. Hence all the guessing and lazy speculation. Jen generally does better than that.

  7. steve hall

    Good story DAN. Did you shout “Hey!you guys are distracting me from the Chelsea/Liverpool game”?