Vegas Realty Crisis, Meet Reality TV: CNBC Flips Over Foreclosures

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Las Vegas
If America's subprime mortgage crisis was an earthquake, Las Vegas would be the epicenter.

From 2008 to 2011, homes in the city lost approximately half their value. Meanwhile, its unemployment rate more than tripled. By 2010, nearly two out of every three Nevadan homeowners were underwater on their mortgages. As Business Insider commented recently: "[T]he subprime mortgage crisis" left "no major U.S. city ... more devastated than Las Vegas."

But all that suffering makes for great TV. Or at least CNBC hopes so, because the network is busy turning Las Vegas' economic disaster into a reality show.

Keying off of Las Vegas' still-prominent place on the national misery index, the cable news network plans to air a new reality television show called Flipping Wars: Vegas.

As CNBC sees it, "the housing market plunge" may have left thousands of families living in boxes, but on the bright side, it's "created big opportunities for folks who are willing to ... take a gamble" and buy a foreclosure in Vegas, to try and flip it for a profit.

In the show, CNBC aims to follow "four teams of wheeler dealers who see dollar signs every time they bid on a foreclosed home." In other words, every week, Americans can tune in to watch profiteers buying and flipping the houses of poor working-class folks who were made homeless by the mortgage crisis.

It's basically Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous meets Lifestyles of the Opportunistic and Avaricious.

Surely, You Can't Be Serious

Yes, CNBC is serious. Last year, Las Vegas had the highest home foreclosure rate in the nation. This year, things are looking up, with "only" one out of 49 housing units in the Las Vegas area receiving a foreclosure notice so far.

Foreclosure-tracker RealtyTrac says Las Vegas is now only No. 9 in foreclosures. (Hurray!) But if anyone can figure a way to make a buck off of other people's problems, it's CNBC.

So get ready to take a lighthearted romp through the devastation that is the Las Vegas housing market. Make sure to set your DVRs ... assuming you still have somewhere to plug them in.


Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith holds no position in any company mentioned.

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