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Vegas eyes turnaround as Obama bets recovery

LAS VEGAS--Like “everybody” in 2005, Las Vegas casino worker Jay Nagasako bought his house — for US$244,000, thinking it was a one-way bet to wealth and security.

This year he sold it for US$75,000, losing a fortune but saying: “You have to move on with your life.”

In the four years since President Barack Obama was first elected, thousands of homeowners have faced a similar nightmare in the Nevada gambling city, which has the dubious honor of being America's foreclosure capital.

As Nov. 6 looms, and Obama battles to stay in the White House, there are faint signs of a turnaround, with home prices starting to rise, and the jobless rate down to 12.3 percent in August from 14.3 percent a year earlier.

But it will be a long road to recovery — a fact Obama is all too aware of, as he tries to convince Americans to give him four more years, to revive the country's shattered economy.

Nagasako, a 43-year-old bachelor, prided himself on being able to pay his mortgage — but after the 2008 crash, as house prices went through the floor, he realized he was fighting a losing battle.

“Everybody was buying at that time,” he told AFP. “I did everything right, I made my payments and everything and then I realized: why am I putting money in something that's worth a lot less?”

So, having joined the massed ranks of the “underwater” homeowners in Vegas — whose property was worth less than they owed — he decided to “short sell” it back to the bank, which took possession in return for writing off his debt.

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 Stocks in US seal third-quarter gains despite bumpy final days 
The construction site of an apartment building is seen in South Las Vegas, Nevada, Wednesday, Sept. 26. Las Vegas has long had the dubious honor of being America's foreclosure capital. But as the election looms, there are faint signs of a turnaround, with home prices rising for six straight months, and the jobless toll down to 12.3 percent in August from 14.3 percent a year earlier.

(AFP)



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