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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

boom madness

On Sunday our family got back from a trip to China. More frequent blogging will resume as soon as I recover from jet lag. I'm still living in kind of a twilight zone, with my kids running around until about midnite as their internal clocks try to adjust.

Here's the lead story from today's LRC, written by Doug French, about a Las Vegas couple who thought they could make a quick killing in the real estate market, and are now blaming everybody but themselves as they find themselves drowning in debt.
Those were the days back in 2004. The housing boom in Las Vegas was at a fever pitch. Builders were holding lotteries to see who would gain the privilege of buying their homes. Speculators hit town like a swarm of locus buying up all the homes they could. There were only 2,500 used homes listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), and realtors complained that they couldn’t get sellers to accept bids at listed prices.

But now over 20,000 homes are up for sale on MLS in Sin City and builders are giving away thousands of dollars in incentives to entice homebuyers to take the plunge. And for those who believed the way to riches was buying as many houses as possible with no money down, reality now bites.

Of course taking responsibility for one’s actions is not the current American way. So instead of a trip to credit counseling, at least one Las Vegas couple has engaged legal counsel in suing a multi-tasking realtor/mortgage lender/leasing agent and his wife who allegedly caused their financial pain and suffering.

In a complaint filed recently in Clark County, Nevada, a husband and wife are suing a Las Vegas realtor and his wife for "fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, bad faith, and unfair dealings, as real estate professionals, mortgage brokers and failing to provide suitable renters for each of the properties."

According to the complaint, our would-be real estate moguls were earning a combined income of $60,000 a year at the time: the husband as a self-employed painter, the wife as a hairdresser. Back in October of 2004, with the Las Vegas real estate market rocking, as fate would have it, the hairdresser was doing a client’s hair one day and mentioned that she was interested in real estate investing.

The client had just the person for her stylist to talk to: her husband happened to be a real estate salesman. The salesman urged the hairdresser to buy as many homes as she could with 100 percent financing using loans that require interest-only payments monthly.

The realtor projected that the homes would rise in value to generate equity of nearly $1,350,000 in five years, with very little risk. The novice investors had good credit so obtaining the loans would be no problem. In November of 2004, the painter and his wife purchased two properties and the following month they bought five more. In January 2005, they bought their dream home to live in...
You can see where this is headed, but read the rest for the gory details. I'm sure the realtor is a sleazebag, but come on, what was the couple thinking?


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