Budding Trend: Foreclosed Homes Converted to Pot Gardens

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The housing market isn't the only thing that's gone to pot in Las Vegas.

With the foreclosure crisis in high gear, some enterprising residents are converting vacant homes into marijuana grow sites, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In one raid, Vegas police discovered 61 plants in a recently foreclosed four-bedroom home. In another, they confiscated 878 plants worth approximately $2.6 million.

The budding trend's growth coincides with the city's wildly speculative housing boom and subsequent bust. In 2005, when home prices were still rising, there were 18 recorded pot sites and 1,000 confiscated plants in the state. In 2010, police raided 153 indoor operations and nabbed 13,000 plants, according to the Times.

In October, one in every 180 homes in Nevada received a foreclosure filing -- more than three times the national average of one in 563, says RealtyTrac, a foreclosure analytics company. In large part due to the foreclosure backlog, property value in Las Vegas dropped from $317 per square foot in 2006 to $138 per square foot in 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Vacant homes, as we previously reported, fall prey to grifters of all stripes. In Bay Shore, N.Y., a couple found themselves the victims of a criminal trifecta -- squatters, scammers and thieves. While Richard and Lisa Scott waited for their bank to approve short sale offers on their foreclosed home, the property was vandalized by squatters, fraudulently rented out on Craigslist and finally stripped of its copper plumbing by robbers.

And even when no criminal activity is involved, vacant homes are vulnerable to another threat: mold. In humid states like Florida -- which, incidentally, also teems with foreclosures -- vacant homes can succumb to the effects of mold and mildew in a matter of weeks, and the damage can quickly add up.

There are, however, at least a few rare instances in which vacant homes yield pleasant surprises. While making repairs to a home in Florida, a plumber discovered $20,000 hidden in an air duct. It turns out that the previous owner, a widow with an apparent aversion to banking, took to hiding cash in the home for her next of kin. The altruistic plumber turned the money over to the police.

See also:
Vacant House Yields Late Owner's Stash of Cash
Vacant Home Targeted By Squatters, Scammers and Thieves

12 PHOTOS
10 Cities Getting Slammed by Foreclosures
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Budding Trend: Foreclosed Homes Converted to Pot Gardens

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +32%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,273
Unemployment: 7.6%
% home value down from peak: -12.42%

Columbus hit its median home value peak in the first quarter of 2006. Since that time, home values have declined a relatively modest 12.4%, including a 3.4% drop last year. By the second quarter of 2012, Fiserv projects that homes in the area will lose another 2.3% of their value. Median family income in Columbus is above the national average, and unemployment is just 8%, a full percentage point less than the national average. Despite the fact that things don’t look so bad for the Columbus housing market compared to other regions, the city foreclosure rate still increased by 32% last quarter. A total of 2,273 homes were foreclosed upon during that time.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Columbus, Ohio

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +35%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,743
Unemployment: 11.2%
% home value down from peak: -59.3%

There is arguably no single housing market with a worse long-term outlook than southwest Florida, and the Cape Coral-Fort Myers region is the worst of these. Housing prices in the have already dropped 59.3% from their peak, and Fiserv project them to decline another 12.2% by the second quarter of next year. According to Corelogic, 47% of the homes in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area are worth less than their mortgages because of declining values. Foreclosures have increased 35% in the last quarter, and with no sign of recovery in the immediate future that trend may worsen in the coming months.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Fort Myers, Fla.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +36%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,348
Unemployment: 11%
% home value down from peak: -59.1%

As of last month, Vallejo-Fairfield had the second-highest foreclosure rate in the country, with one out of every 51 homes being foreclosed upon in the third quarter of this year. This was a 36% increase in foreclosures from the second quarter. Home values have dropped 7.5% in the past year and are projected by Fiserv to drop an additional 4.9% by the second quarter of 2012. A remarkable 53% of homes in the region are worth less than their mortgages. This is the seventh highest rate of homes with underwater mortgages in the country.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Fairfield, Calif.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +41%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,174
Unemployment: 14.9%
% home value down from peak: -54%

Fresno’s economy has continued to suffer since housing prices began to drop in 2006. It currently has an unemployment rate of 14.9%, which is one of the highest in the country. Home prices peaked in the first quarter of 2006 and have been decreasing since. The metropolitan area also has one of the highest underwater mortgage rates in the country, with a negative equity share of nearly 46%. In the last year alone home prices have dropped 11%.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Fresno, Calif.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +44%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,039
Unemployment: 11.6%
% home value down from peak: -53.4%

More than 1,000 homes were foreclosed upon in the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville region last quarter, a 44% increase from the previous three-month period. Nearly half of the region’s homes are worth less than their mortgages. With Fiserv projecting home values would drop 7.1% by next year and another 4.9% the year after that, things may just get even worse.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Titusville, Fla.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +49%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,559
Unemployment: 9.5%
% home value down from peak: -39.3%

Jacksonville has experienced a quarterly increase in foreclosures of nearly 50%. Home prices have dropped 39.1% since their peak in the second quarter of 2006. The metropolitan area’s negative equity share also exceeds 46%, making it among the worst in the country for underwater mortgages. Home prices are expected to decrease another 10.7% by the second quarter of 2012.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Jacksonville, Fla.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +55%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,956
Unemployment: 8.7%
% home value down from peak: -15.9%

Nearly 2,000 homes were foreclosed upon during the last quarter, a 55% increase from the previous three months. Unlike many of the regions on this list with accelerating home foreclures, Cincinnati’s local economy is doing fairly well. Home prices are only down 15.9% from their peak in the first quarter of 2006. Unemployment and median family income are both better than average. One possible explanation for this recent increase may be that nearly a third of the total decline in home value since the peak has occurred in the past 12 months.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Cincinnati, Ohio

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +57%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,673
Unemployment: 11%
% home value down from peak: -51.4%

The Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice metropolitan area has seen the third largest increase in the country in foreclosures in the third quarter. However, only 1,673 homes out of the 311,475 on the market were foreclosed upon. The housing market has suffered a great deal since housing prices peaked in the first quarter of 2006. Since then, overall home prices have dropped 51.4%.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Venice, Fla.

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +67%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,003
Unemployment: 6.6%
% home value down from peak: -15.8%

The Boston metropolitan area is considered to have a particularly resilient housing market. In the most recent quarter, however, foreclosures have increased 67%. Home prices have only dropped 15.8% since they peaked in the third quarter of 2005. The national average is -32.3%. From the second quarter of 2010 to the second quarter of 2011, home prices dropped a mere 1.7%.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Boston, Mass

Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +151%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,358
Unemployment: 6.9%
% home value down from peak: -14.9%

Albuquerque’s housing market, like Boston’s, is relatively healthy. While home prices decreased 32.3% nationally after their peak, home prices in Albuquerque only decreased 14.9% since they peaked. Regardless, foreclosures have recently skyrocketed. In the third quarter of 2011, the number of foreclosures in Albuquerque increased 151%. According to New Mexico Business Weekly, the lack of job creation in the area has been a major contributor to this problem.

See foreclosed homes for sale in Albuquerque, N.M.

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25 PHOTOS
Buyer's Market: Homes for $75,000
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Budding Trend: Foreclosed Homes Converted to Pot Gardens

As home prices continue to look for a bottom and our economy slogs along at a snail's pace, people are understandably leery about committing to a home purchase. But living within your means as a homeowner doesn't necessarily mean settling for a mediocre house.

As these places demonstrate, a fairly modest sum can go pretty darn far in the way of dwellings these days. Click through our gallery to check out how much house $75,000 buys across the country, and see if you don't agree.

Location: San Antonio, Texas
Price: $75,000 
Beds/Baths: 2/1
Sq Ft: 993

This charming house may be a bit on the wee side, but it has everything you need, plus some neat, cheery landscaping and access to the community swimming pool. 

See the listing and more photos of the home.

The home's airy open floor plan compensates for its small size. 

Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Price: $75,000
Beds/Baths: 1/1
Sq Ft: 623

A unit in this Atlanta building, touted as "historic" in its listing description, recently underwent a price cut that makes it quite a deal. The home features hardwood floors, high ceilings and puts you close to nearby retail and restaurants.

See the listing for more details. 

While the building may have seen its fair share of days, the condo's finishes and decor render the dwelling positively modern. 

See the listing for more details. 

See more $75,000 homes in Atlanta, Ga.

Location: Omaha, Neb. 
Price: $75,000
Beds/Baths: 3/1
Sq Ft: 878

This modest ranch house in Omaha offers three bedrooms, a one-car garage and mature trees dotting its perimeter.

See its cute interior

The home has a decent-sized kitchen, basement and laundry room.

See photos of the house

See more $75,000 homes in Omaha, Neb.

Location: Fairview Park, Ohio
Price: $75,000
Beds/Baths: 2/1
Sq Ft: N/A

Boasting a recently renovated kitchen, this cottage-style ranch house delivers a porch and garage, along with a spanking-new exterior. 

See a slideshow of the home

The neat, well-proportioned interior was recently refurbished, with the kitchen receiving the most attention. 

See a slideshow of this home

See more $75,000 homes in Fairview Park, Ohio

Location: Kearns, Utah
Price: $75,000
Beds/Baths: 3/2
Sq Ft: 1,176

This starter home gives you more size and one more bathroom than you might expect from its peers on the market. 

See photos of this home

In 2005 the home underwent a makeover with new paint and flooring, along with an updated kitchen. Why such a modest price tag, you ask? Like many bargain listings, this one's a short sale. 

See the listing for details. 

See more $75,000 homes in Kearns, Utah

Location: Cheektowaga, N.Y. 
Price: $75,000
Beds/Baths: 3/2
Sq Ft: 1,731

It's a rare listing that offers 1,731 square feet for just $75,000. In addition to its generous interior space, this home also has a garage. 

See the listing for details. 

A fenced, lush backyard is also part of the deal. Just the place to let the dogs run free!

See the interior

See more $75,000 homes in Cheektowaga, N.Y.

Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Price: $75,000
Beds/Baths: 2/2
Sq Ft: 720

We'll let the listing do the talking on this one:
 
"Take a drive down this nostalgic, brick paved, tree-lined street and you'll discover the cutest, most affordable home on the market."

While it may not be the most adorable , there's no denying that this sucker is pretty darn cute. 

The interior is cute too

The home puts you close to downtown, two state parks and a bike path, according to the listing. Having undergone renovations over the last few years, the interior boasts refurbished windows, hardwood floors and kitchen tile, along with a fresh coat of paint. 

See a slideshow of the listing

See more $75,000 homes in Des Moines, Iowa

Location: Caldwell, Idaho 
Price: $75,000
Beds/Baths: 3/2
Sq Ft: 1,395

In addition to its overall bang-for-your-buck shine, this cozy single family offers 100% financing, jacking up its score on the bargain meter even further. 

See the listing for details. 

The family room and kitchen feature vaulted ceilings that enhance the open-floor plan's airy feel. 

See photos of this listing

See more $75,000 homes in Caldwell, Idaho

Location: Tampa, Fla. 
Price: $75,000
Beds/Baths: 2/2
Sq Ft: 1,094 

This remodeled villa-style home just had its price slashed by $5,000, as the owner and bank continue to try and make a successful short sale. Community facilities include a playground, racquetball courts and tennis courts. 

See the listing for details. 

The listing says it all: "Short Sale -- Where there's a Bill, there's a way!" If that were only true... 

See the listing for details. 

See more $75,000 homes in Tampa, Fla.

Location: Las Vegas, Nev.
Price: $75,000
Beds/Baths: 4/3
Sq Ft: 1,868 

Clocking in at just $40 a square foot, this home's low price is by no means unheard of in a market many consider to be ground zero of the housing bust. The interior features both a living room and family room, while the property's compact plot boasts a fenced backyard along with neat landscaping. 

See a gallery of this home

The gleaming kitchen has all-new appliances,  granite countertops and a storage-filled peninsula. 

See the listing for details

See more $75,000 homes in Las Vegas, Nev.

Location: Oklahoma, Okla. 
Price: $75,000
Beds/Baths: 2/1
Sq Ft: 858

This charming bungalow furnishes you with the basics at a fraction of what they cost in many other states. 

See the listing for details. 

Take respite from the frigid Oklahoman winters by cozying up in this snug living room. 

See the listing for details. 

See more $75,000 homes in Oklahoma, Okla.

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