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.
Budding Trend: Foreclosed Homes Converted to Pot Gardens
Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +32%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,273
% 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.
Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +35%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,743
% 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.
Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +36%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,348
% 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.
Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +41%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,174
% 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%.
Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +44%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,039
% 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.
Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +49%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,559
% 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.
Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +55%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,956
% 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.
Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +57%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,673
% 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%.
Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +67%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 2,003
% 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%.
Quarterly increase in foreclosures: +151%
# of Foreclosures Q3 2011: 1,358
% 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.