日期:2011-04-21 10:27


The effects of America's worst property crash go very wide

TO THE many dubious distinctions of Las Vegas, add one more: foreclosure capital of America. According to RealtyTrac, a property-listings firm, one in every ten homes in the city was in some stage of foreclosure last year, almost five times the national rate. In North Las Vegas, a poorer suburb, the figure was one in five. These statistics would be even grislier were it not for lenders’ inability or reluctance to eject all those who are in default at once. People who have managed to hold onto their homes are far from lucky: property prices are around 60% below the peak they reached in 2006, leaving 70% of homeowners in the area owing more on their mortgage than their property is worth. (Nationally, the proportion of homes that are “under water” is a still-awful 23%.)


All this makes Las Vegas the most extreme example of the many cities in America’s sunbelt that grew rapidly thanks to the cheap and abundant credit of recent decades, only to suffer fearsome property crashes during the subprime crisis and the ensuing recession. The ten most foreclosure-afflicted cities in the country are all in Arizona, California or Nevada, notes RealtyTrac. Of the ten most foreclosure-prone states, only one—Michigan, with its car-related problems—lies outside the sunny south and west. As these places are now discovering, it is not just unfortunate property-owners who feel the reverberations of such monumental busts, nor are their effects confined to pocketbooks.

上述数据使拉斯维加斯成为美国众多城市中最极端的例子。几十年来廉价而丰富的信贷使美国阳光地带发展迅速,然而次贷危机和随之而来的经济衰退中,却遭遇到可怕的房地产崩盘。Realty Trac指出,美国的十个被取消赎回权情况最严重的城市都在亚利桑那州,加州或内华达州。另外饱受止赎权之苦的十个州里,只有密歇根州不处在阳光地带(美国南部和西部),是因为汽车的相关问题。这些地方的人们现在发现,不幸的房产所有者深受破产之痛,已经不限于经济利益。

The signs of the crash are everywhere in Las Vegas. The city’s outer suburbs are eerily quiet, thanks to the preponderance of unsold and foreclosed homes. There are few lights in any windows, and few cars on the roads. Banners and boards advertising hugely discounted housing flap and rattle mournfully in the desert wind. In North Las Vegas every second house on some streets carries a “For Rent” sign, offering rates of as little as $150 a month. One or two houses on each street have been boarded up and abandoned. Even on the city’s famous “strip” of cavernous casinos and high-rise hotels, the razzle-dazzle is marred by the grey concrete hulks of abandoned building projects.


When a property crash becomes as pervasive as Las Vegas’s, explains Devin Reiss, a former head of the Nevada Association of Realtors (NVAR), it takes on a life of its own. Nasser Daneshvary of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has found that the value of homes near foreclosed properties falls faster than the market as a whole, until so many homes are foreclosed that average property prices fall to the level of foreclosures. That, in turn, leaves more homeowners deeper in negative equity, saddled with mortgages that vastly exceed the value of their homes. NVAR reckons that as many as a quarter of those who suffer foreclosure do so by choice, to escape such a trap. Locals swap stories of cunning borrowers who buy second homes for a song before deliberately defaulting on their first mortgages.


This sort of downward spiral, in turn, has a dire effect on local governments, which tend to rely on property taxes for much of their revenue. Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, expects its take from property taxes will fall by over a fifth this year. The problem is all the more severe, says Susan Brager, the chairman of the county commission, since demand for the services the county provides has risen amid the downturn. Local authorities also end up picking up the pieces when developers go bust or homes are abandoned, leaving fees unpaid, infrastructure to be completed and property to maintain.


All of this ripples through the local economy. The construction business, once a mainstay, has withered. Local governments are trimming their staff. Some of those who have lost their homes or jobs have moved away: the population of Nevada started falling in 2008 for the first time in decades. And even those who stick around may be infected by the surrounding gloom. Alan Swinson, a builder living in North Las Vegas, says he has struggled to keep up with his mortgage in the past and is now determined to scrimp and save all he can to ward off future calamities. One recent study found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that high levels of foreclosure tended to drag down not just investment in property but also car sales.


The knock-on effects go further, argues Terrie D’Antonio, the head of Help of Southern Nevada, a charity. Moving house can cut people off from their friends, churches, schools and community groups. Many have lost their homes because they have lost their jobs. All this leaves them isolated and depressed. And that can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency and so on. The number of people turning to Help about all these problems has jumped in recent years, Ms D’Antonio says. A 2009 survey of Latino families around the country whose homes had been foreclosed had similar findings: amid the stress, marriages broke down; family members fell out; children’s academic performance suffered.

还有更多的连锁效应,南内华达州的一个慈善机构主席特蕾 大安东尼奥认为。搬家会切断人们与朋友,教会,学校及社区团体的联系。许多人由于失去工作而失去家园。这让他们陷入孤立和沮丧。导致会吸毒和酗酒,家庭暴力,青少年犯罪等。近几年,在这些问题上寻求帮助的人数大大上升。2009年对拉丁美洲各国家庭的调查表明,被取消房屋赎回权的家庭也有类似的困境,情绪紧张,婚姻破裂,家庭成员减少; 孩子的学业不佳。

The proliferation of foreclosures has impinged on politics, too. Local politicians all have pet schemes to pep up the property market. Democrats at both state and federal level have tried to cast themselves as friends to struggling homeowners, voting for various measures to encourage forbearance by banks and tide over borrowers in arrears. Shelley Berkley, the Democrat who represents Las Vegas in Congress, huffs and puffs about Republican plans to shelve such schemes: “Talk about kicking people when they’re down!” But Republicans in districts with lots of foreclosures are more sympathetic to the over-indebted than the party as a whole. Joe Heck, the Republican who represents many of the city’s suburbs, recently cast the sole Republican vote to preserve one of the programmes Ms Berkley is so worried about. His predecessor, Dina Titus, a Democrat, was booted out of office last year amid anger about the state of the economy—yet another victim of America’s housing bust.

越来越多取消抵押品赎回权的危害也已经延伸到政治。当地政治家都计划振兴房地产市场。州和联邦一级的民主党人试图像对待朋友一样对待陷入困境的房主由投票出台各种措施鼓励银行延期偿付,来帮助欠债的借款人度过难关。雪莱伯克利,议会中代表拉斯维加斯的民主党人,对共和党人打算搁置这些方案的计划十分愤慨:竟然想着落井下石!但是,在许多止赎情况严重的地区的共和党人,比党内总体对过度负债者表现出了更多的同情。乔 海科,城郊共和党的代表,最近投票要求保留伯克利很担心的一个方案。他的前任民主党人士迪那提多,由于去年受恶劣经济状态的影响而被解雇,也算是美国房地产泡沫的另一类受害者。

  • associationn. 联合,结合,交往,协会,社团,联想
  • academicadj. 学术的,学院的,理论的 n. 大学教师,
  • trapn. 圈套,陷阱,困境,双轮轻便马车 v. 设圈套,陷入
  • figuren. 图形,数字,形状; 人物,外形,体型 v. 演算,
  • exceedvt. 超过,胜过,超出界限 vi. 领先
  • inabilityn. 无能,无力
  • commissionn. 委员会,委托,委任,佣金,犯罪 vt. 委任,委托
  • performancen. 表演,表现; 履行,实行 n. 性能,本事
  • confinedadj. 幽禁的;狭窄的;有限制的;在分娩中的 v. 限
  • alcoholn. 酒精,乙醇,酒