If America's subprime mortgage crisis was an earthquake, Las Vegas would be the epicenter.
From 2008 to 2011, homes in the city lost approximately half their value. Meanwhile, its unemployment rate more than tripled. By 2010, nearly two out of every three Nevadan homeowners were underwater on their mortgages. As Business Insider commented recently: "[T]he subprime mortgage crisis" left "no major U.S. city ... more devastated than Las Vegas."
But all that suffering makes for great TV. Or at least CNBC hopes so, because the network is busy turning Las Vegas' economic disaster into a reality show.
Keying off of Las Vegas' still-prominent place on the national misery index, the cable news network plans to air a new reality television show called Flipping Wars: Vegas.
As CNBC sees it, "the housing market plunge" may have left thousands of families living in boxes, but on the bright side, it's "created big opportunities for folks who are willing to ... take a gamble" and buy a foreclosure in Vegas, to try and flip it for a profit.
In the show, CNBC aims to follow "four teams of wheeler dealers who see dollar signs every time they bid on a foreclosed home." In other words, every week, Americans can tune in to watch profiteers buying and flipping the houses of poor working-class folks who were made homeless by the mortgage crisis.
It's basically Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous meets Lifestyles of the Opportunistic and Avaricious.
Surely, You Can't Be Serious
Yes, CNBC is serious. Last year, Las Vegas had the highest home foreclosure rate in the nation. This year, things are looking up, with "only" one out of 49 housing units in the Las Vegas area receiving a foreclosure notice so far.
Vegas Realty Crisis, Meet Reality TV: CNBC Flips Over Foreclosures
For real estate buyers who have the cash and credit to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates, there is one market type that tends to be more resilient than others: the college town.
Established, big-name universities, with their steady and ever-replenishing supplies of new students, faculty and administrators, virtually guarantee tenants and future buyers. Additionally, more retirees are choosing to move to college towns for the cultural amenities. Of course, the downsides for home buyers, particularly investors, are that renting in college towns is a somewhat seasonal business, with a summer decline, and there's always the threat of keg-party damage.