Thursday, December 27, 2007

We're Number One! (again)

Nineteen of 20... Not Bad

Ok, I admit it. Although I'm not a member of the Chamber of Commerce or on the board of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, I was bummed last year when I discovered that after a run of 19 consecutive years, Nevada had ceded the title of fastest growing state in the union. To Arizona, no less. Silver Staters felt stepped on, lied to, cheated on and treated like dirt. How could the census takers have given our long-held title away? Could they have missed somebody in the nation's fourth largest state? Perhaps a few aliens living in Area 51. However, this year, despite housing slowdowns and a near recession nationwide, the Valley of the Dollars and other areas of Nevada have regained the title. (add noisemakers here)

Between the two Julys - 06 and 07, Nevada's population grew at a rate of 2.9% to 2.5 million souls while the second place Arizonies grew at a paltry 2.8% according the Census Bureau. Nevadan's take this stuff seriously enough to plan a gaggle of Las Vegas resorts to open beginning in 2009. Even Ivana's ex - the guy with the funny hair has seen the light in the desert and is building a Tower to Trump all others. With the new building and the jobs they create new residents who will continue to flock to the Entertainment Capital should turn the housing slump upside down.

Let's talk for a minute about the so-called housing slump. Historically Las Vegas has had cheap housing, especially when compared to the Earthquake State to the west, reasonably-priced utilities, and decent wages. A couple of years ago housing prices started to boom. It was not unheard of for a development to begin selling homes based on a few models, and buyers selling the homes before they were completed at profits over six figures. Mortgage money flowed easily as "values" continued to increase. That brought in speculators who bought multiple houses with plans to "flip" them. And they did, until the bubble popped and the Ponzi scheme stopped with a few residents and many speculators holding the bag - uh mortgage.

But for resident homeowners of 5 years or more, many saw their home values double, triple, and more. Now that the big city pundits are bemoaning the great sub-prime debacle, they tell us that the average home has slipped in value about 6%, but in California, Phoenix, and Las Vegas the decline could exceed ten percent. HELLO!! It doesn't take a mathematics Phi Beta Kappa to figure that if your has house doubled or tripled in value, then loses 10% of that value, that fact does not send you directly to the soup kitchen without passing Go or collecting $ 200.00. The folks who are hurt are those who bought at the peak of the market - mostly speculators. Save your crying towels for those whose homes were destroyed by Katrina and those who did not have a 4-5 year run-up in prices.

What's the big deal with states such as Nevada, Texas, and Arizona growing in population while others such as Ohio, Michigan, and Rhode Island losing? Well for one thing, the U.S. House of Representatives and electoral votes can be affected. Texas will probably gain seats, Ohio will likely lose seats, and Nevada, Arizona and Utah may well grow enough to gain another. A little blogging music Maestro.... How about Barbara Streisand's "People."

Dr. Forgot

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