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One in eight: Nevada has 167,564 empty houses

Topic: Mortgage

In the cleanup phase of the Great Housing Bubble, the lucky ones are those profiting from recycling the dead carcasses from yesteryear. I have been sifting through the debris in Las Vegas for about six months now. For a variety of reasons, I have been mum on my activities, but today I am going to share some anecdotes and lessons learned from my new adventure.

The most important of these lessons relates to the topic of today's featured article. According to the US Census Bureau, there are 167,564 houses in Nevada. That's a lot of empty homes -- which is good if you want to survive as a flipper. Occupied homes are troubles magnified. Buying them is harmful to your financial health.

The pros and cons of occupied propertiesBuying occupied properties at auction is always riskier because you never know what will happen with the previous occupants. I purchased two occupied houses for investors who were able to enjoy positive cashflow from the first month of ownership, so there are potential advantages. Since occupied properties have more risk, they have appealingly large margins -- at least they look like they have large margins. When you factor in the lost time and the potential for litigation or damage by the occupants, houses with people in them are something to be avoided.

Squatters on my dime

I have one property I purchased in November, and the former owners are still squatting there. The former owners pulled an interesting legal move. They had the wife file for bankruptcy in her maiden name a few days after the foreclosure auction, and they put the property into the estate. Well, our search didn't pick up the bankruptcy because it wasn't in the owner's name, so we began foreclosure proceedings. Late in the process, the bankruptcy attorney accuses us of harassment, and we had no idea what he was talking about.

Once we discovered the suit, we had to initiate our own suit to have the property removed from the bankruptcy proceedings. They didn't own the property when they filed, so they can't obtain protection from the bankruptcy court to stay there. If they had filed before the foreclosure, they would have had other rights, but if they had filed before the foreclosure, it would have shown up in a title search, and I wouldn't have bid on the property.

The cost of all this legal maneuvering is expensive. The time to properly evict these people has been costly in two ways. First, the declining market means my resale price is declining while i wait. in addition, I have opportunity cost on money tied up in a non-performing asset. I am not a bank. I can't amend, extend, and pretend I am making money. I either sell quickly for a profit or I don't profit.

Ye ol' crack house

By far the most bizarre story I have is a property I purchased in October.

Back in 2005, a recent Salvadoran immigrant obtains his citizenship. With his workman's salary and a penchant for liar loans, he puts together an empire of 8 properties in Las Vegas from 2005 to 2007. The last of these properties was his crown jewel -- the property I bought.

The property is in a older Las Vegas neighborhood called Spring Valley. The neighborhood is dominated by ranch style houses ranging from 1,400 SF to 1,800 SF. It has seen better days, but this is not a bad neighborhood. It is mostly median income middle-class families trying to get by.

My property is the large 5 bedroom home at the end of a cul-de-sac. It is the only one in the area with a large pie shaped lot with an outbuilding and RV parking. Back in 2007 when Vicente the Fox, our recent immigrant, bought this property with his liar loan, it was the finest property on the street.

Vicente the Fox began using his large property as a salvage yard. He put individual locks on all the bedroom doors and leased out the rooms to boarders and skimmed their rent. He tried to convince them to keep paying him even after I bought the house.

The boarders were united by their love for crystal meth. There is no evidence this place was used as a meth lab -- thankfully -- but when the constables came by to evict the last boarders, they confiscated a cigar box full of used pipes and other paraphernalia. In the two weeks after we took possession, the house was broken into three times.

The amount of junk on this lot is staggering. There are eight automobiles on this property, and none of those are in the garage because the garage was full of stuff. All eight cars are in the back and side yards. There were 4 working refrigerators on the property, a dirt bike, an air conditioner, anything and everything you can imagine, and lots of it.

I call our former owner Vicente the Fox because he carefully avoided us whenever we tried to serve him formal eviction papers. He didn't live at this house, and his former address is an apartment where he skipped out on the rent. However, since I was unable to serve him, I could not fully divest him from the property and the junk sitting on it.

He teams with a local attorney bandito to shake me down for wrongful foreclosure, stealing his property, and so on. Since I couldn't get him served, his weak case was strong enough to tie me up in court for a while. I settled.

Surprisingly enough, it turned out in my favor because when I let him back on the property to get his stuff, he cleared out much of the garbage along with the stuff of value. My worst fear was him picking over the good stuff and leaving me with a $5,000 mess to clean. He took a number of paint cans and other items that would have required me to bring in special disposal teams.

There is no good resolution for this property. I will lose money on the deal, and Vicente the Fox will have a roving pile of garbage scattered at friends and acquaintances houses all over town.

Eventually, this property will get sold. Hopefully, it will be to a good family that restores it as the jewel of the neighborhood. That's the outcome I want.

Flippers are maligned for bringing down the quality of life in neighborhoods. The reality is that the delinquent former owners are the ones who brought down the neighborhood. Flippers like me are the ones taking back the crack houses from rent-skimming former owners and putting families back into them.

After those two experiences, it's easy to see why dealing with vacant properties is much preferred. I'll focus on the empty ones. There are plenty to choose from.


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m. dehaven
The article is worthless. It's titled Hud Homes in Nevada.All it talks about is someone who got screwed numerous times by A Mexican. Not a word on Hud Homes
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Read all comments: 6


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