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Little 'viva' in Las Vegas real estate

Nevada was one of the fastest-growing states, but Las Vegas has had many foreclosures. The state's foreclosure rate has led the nation for more than 4½ years.

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Las Vegas (CNN) -- In the brutal heat, Mike Forizs ventures out of his North Las Vegas home to take out the trash"If I go over and look at the house on the corner, there are broken windows," he saysIt appears to be a party hangout, with empty booze and soda bottles that can be seen through a broken pane"People don't care when they're getting ready to leave." Welcome to one of the top foreclosure areas in the nation, the sunny Las Vegas areaThere are plenty of "For Sale" signs, up and down the streetFront doors are littered with tacked-on notices: "You are in danger of losing your homeYour home loan is being foreclosed"This property has been determined to be vacant and abandoned." var params = {}; var attributes = {}; var flashvars = {dataFile: "", headline: "Less 'viva' in Vegas", sourceLabel: "CNN Radio's", source: "Bob Costantini", mp3File: ""}; params.allowscriptaccess="always"; if(swfobject.hasFlashPlayerVersion("8")) {swfobject.embedSWF("", "cnnInteractive", "214", "74", "8.0.0", false, flashvars, params, attributes);} else {$('cnnInteractive').update(');} Some houses get stripped of whatever valuables are inside, from pipes to door hardwareIt's impossible to know if the occupants took things with them, or if the empty houses fell to vandalsThe neighborhood of single homes and garages was built in the early 2000s when Las Vegas was the fastest-growing metro area in the nationNevada was the fastest-growing state from 2000 to 2010The area still looks newThere are no cracks in the streets, sidewalks or driveways, and the slow-growing desert landscape doesn't hurt the curb appealPost-boom, Vegas tries to kick its water habit Mike Forizs bought his North Las Vegas home for $95,000; it originally sold for more than $300,000. But the recession hit Vegas hardNevada's foreclosure rate has led the nation for more than four-and-a-half years; about 1-in-4 homes in the Vegas area is in some foreclosure process Prices have dipped by 40% or moreIt means turnover and uncertainty for residents such as Forizs"A couple of the neighbors have already moved out because of foreclosureThere's like three or four (other houses) just on this little block that are empty alreadyAnd there's a couple neighbors" trying to refinance, Forizs saysIt does mean an upside for buyers, of course, including Forizs, who moved here a few months agoHis split-level home originally sold in the mid-$300,000sForizs bought it for $95,000"Guy let it go," he says of the last owner"The banks weren't working with him." Las Vegas' foreclosure rate -- one of every 118 housing units received a foreclosure filing August -- is a symptom of all the excesses of the American housing boom, but with shows, gambling and bright lights in easy reachForeclosures rise in August The downside of that tourism-driven economy: Vacationers and convention-goers spend less or don't come at allResidents who relied on tips to make the house payments found themselves unable to keep upUnemployment is stuck in double digitsOf all the homes sold, about a quarter are short salesThe borrower owes more on the mortgage than the house is worthGeorge McCabe, a public relations executive who works with the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, shakes his headA lifelong resident, McCabe is contemplating his own neighborhood"I bought a home in 2003, in Summerlin, for $300,000," McCabe starts, speaking of a "master-planned," high-dollar suburban community"I lived in it through the boom, when my neighbors would gather around the mailbox and say, 'We all paid about three (hundred thousand dollars) and we can sell for 550 (thousand dollars)Isn't that amazing? Wow! We're all sitting on a gold mine.'" To boot, many of those neighbors, like many around the country, borrowed heavily on their equity A notice on the door of a North Las Vegas home says it's vacantThe windows have been broken out. "Now," McCabe says, "they stand around the mailbox talking about who may or may not be in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure or who's talking about walking away from their loan." Juggling the stats is Paul Bell, president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors"Some areas have declined as much as 75%" in home value, he says var cnnRelatedTopicKeys = []; RELATED TOPICS cnnRelatedTopicKeys.push('U_S_Economy'); U.SEconomy cnnRelatedTopicKeys.push('Las_Vegas'); Las Vegas cnnRelatedTopicKeys.push('U_S_Census'); U.SCensus Now, a new trend emerges: More than half the homes sold here are cash transactionsThat's a sign that speculators and investors are waiting for the next boomIn the meantime, they turn the houses into rentalsThe association lost more than 6,000 members since the start of the recession in 2007But Bell likes to point to a recent slow rise in home sales and pricesHe said he's hoping that the worst in foreclosures is over.

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