“Boomerang Buyers” Recover from Home Foreclosure in Las Vegas

January 14th, 2013

A growing number of former homeowners just out of foreclosure are finding themselves getting back onto the property ladder within just a few years in the Las Vegas area, according to new reports. While these so-called boomerang buyers are still few in number, there are indications that their numbers are poised to grow and could have a huge impact on the city’s real estate market.

Realtors across the city are keen on the market re-entry of these resilient buyers. Dennis Smith, president and CEO Home Builders Research, confirmed that this type of buyer has aroused much interest recently. He said that these buyers are being driven by the fact that, in many cases, it has become cheaper to own a home than to rent a residence. Examining the numbers indicates that boomerang buyers could indeed be a substantial and largely untapped market, particularly for affordable priced homes like those on the short sales list.

In year 2000, the home-ownership rate within Las Vegas Valley was 64 percent, a figure which soared to a 68.8 percent high alongside the housing boom of 2006. As of this March, home ownership had dropped to just 48 percent. Although it is difficult to estimate how many homeowners became renters due to foreclosures, a housing analyst believes that mortgage defaults were largely responsible for the rental surge. During the downturn, some 130,000 households suffered a short sale or foreclosure. With the city maintaining its population level, it is logical to assume that many of those residents who defaulted remain, and a great majority of them would  now be renting homes instead of owning.

One firm, Premier Mortgage Lending, was quick to see the benefit of boomerang home buyers. Last year, it came up with a special program called “Another Chance,” which it specifically launched for recently foreclosed home buyers. The program has already funded close to 200 loans. The owner of the company, Rick Piette, said it took some time for people to realize that there was available financing of this type, but now their phones are now busy with callers ringing non-stop about the program.

 

 

Country Singer Luke Bryan Hits High Note at Las Vegas American Country Awards

January 11th, 2013

Country music artist Luke Bryan went home a big winner from The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas last week, though not with a bagful of chips from the gaming tables. What he did receive was actually worth a whole lot more, as he romped home with nine guitar trophies in the third annual American Country Awards (ACA) held at the hotel casino.

Bryan underscored his dominance as he copped three major titles at stake in the fan-voted awards. Fans voted his “Tailgates and Tanlines” as the album of the year and likewise gave him the accolade as artist of the year and male artist of the year. In addition, Bryan’s “I Don’t Want This Night to End” garnered the Music Video of the Year and the Most Played Radio Track.

Recognition as the female artist of the year was bestowed on Carrie Underwood, who now holds a record 11 ACA trophies, a feat yet unmatched in the awards’ three-year history. Another female artist who was dominant in this year’s voting was Miranda Lambert, Female Singer of the Year. Additionally, her “Over You” stood out in the female category’s Single of the Year, Music Video of the Year, and the Most Played Radio Track.

Other top winners included, Lady Antebellum, which got the Group of the Year and Single (“We Owned the Night”) of the Year Group plums. During the awards, it was announced that the Lady Antebellum trio is coming out with new music in early 2013. The honor for the favorite new artist went to Lauren Alaina, while Jake Owen took the breakthrough artist of the year award.

For the second year in a row, the tandem of singer-actress Kristin Chenoweth and county music artist and actor Trace Adkins hosted the 2012 awards. Antics centering on the Mutt-and-Jeff hosting duo served as the appetizer to the event which kicked off with the hulking Adkins carrying the pint-sized Kristin onstage.

 

Las Vegas Median Home Prices Up Anew

January 10th, 2013

Despite sluggish sales moving into the December holidays, median home prices in Las Vegas rose by 4.3 percent this November from October, thereby sustaining gains for most of 2012, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors (GLVAR) reported. The November average price of $146,000 estimated for 2,682 single-family homes stands 16.8 percent higher than what it was one year ago.

GLVAR president, Kolleen Kelley, said home prices in the metro area have either risen or stayed stable during ten of the past eleven months. This steady appreciation hasn’t been observed since 2004, she noted. Kelley likewise believes that the market is so undervalued now that a quick turnaround can also follow any price downswing brought by the market’s inability to support higher-priced home offerings.

This November’s sales were 10.1 percent lower than those posted in October, and 15.1 percent below from a year ago. Typically, home prices and sales decline in the winter prior to a rebound in the spring. Local statistics indicate a transitioning of the home market from foreclosures to short sales, a situation where a lender sells for less than the amount that the borrower owes on the home mortgage. This November, short sales constituted 41.2 percent of total sales, a decline of 44.7 percent from October, but still 26.8 percent ahead of a year earlier. Foreclosures in November accounted for 10.7 percent of total sales, a marked reversal from the previous two years when approximately half of all sales were from foreclosure listings.

Kelley expects short sales to remain high even after the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act expires this December 31. If Congress doesn’t extend this act, any amount that lenders write off in a short sale will be taxable upon filing of the sellers’ income taxes. Realtors also note that while there’s a steady increase in the number of residences being sold by their traditional owners, the number of homes that lenders sold as foreclosures or short sales is steadily declining.

Las Vegas Heads toward Sustained Growth

January 8th, 2013

Long-term economic growth that rivals the level prior to the Great Recession is in store for Las Vegas and Southern Nevada if the region can weather the next two years. The same steady economic growth after 2015 can be expected for the entire West, economists told local businessmen in a recent meeting at M Resort, Las Vegas. Regional and national trends were used as the basis for the economists’ forecasts.

The director of Business and Economic Research in the University of Nevada (UNLV), Stephen Brown, noted that although the growth in the region is slower than the rest of the United States, the area is rising from deeper losses. There is still a long way to go in regaining growth in 2007, he said, adding though that the region is improving.

A quarter of a century of unprecedented growth was achieved in Nevada before the precession, recalled Lee McPheters, an economics professor at the Carey School of Business, Arizona State University. Nevada, prior to 2008, wasn’t just the nation’s fastest growing state economy over the previous 25-year period. In terms of job creation and population growth, the state was also the U.S. leader. Reflecting those trends, McPheters said that the biggest economic gains and increases in jobs and population were recorded across the states west of South Dakota during that same 25-year span.

However, when the economic crash came, it fell hardest at these western states, the economist observed. From the highest of high flyers, the region sank to the lowest of the lows, he said. With the current slow economic rebound, however, benefits are coming to the western states. According to McPheters, Arizona and Texas were only behind North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Kentucky in terms of employment growth. Job creation is felt most in North Dakota and Oklahoma on account of the states’ energy development, he said. Cities in the western states, including Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, and Houston, dominate metro areas with the highest job growth, the economist also said.

Rising to the Top of the US Seller’s Markets is Sin City Las Vegas

December 28th, 2012

Las Vegas was one of the cities hit hardest by the housing bust some years back.  But now its rebound has been so strong that it’s rising to be one of the top sellers’ markets in the country.  Local and foreign investors alike are eagerly taking advantage of cut-priced homes and turning them into affordable rentals.

The best performing states in the US at the moment include Washington State, Arizona, California, and Nevada – the very same regions that were also the hardest hit.

According to Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, investors are taking advantage of low prices and the reduced interest rates of distressed homes in these states.  Inventory levels there have reduced rapidly due to high sales, and this has helped to improve the prices of homes.

Zillow said that its rankings were based on different sets of data like sales prices against asking prices, percentage of homes in the market marked with price cuts, and number of days listed on the market.

Homes that are listed in the sellers’ markets for a shorter length of time have less chances of seeing their prices slashed, hence their sales prices become nearer or even greater than their previous listing price.  Zillow also conducted a survey of the top ten buyers markets.  These refer to those markets where homes lingered in the marketplace for the longest period of time, and consequently saw prices are cut more frequently.  The survey showed that Chicago was a top the list of the buyers’ markets succeeded by New York, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.

For the coming year, 2013, Las Vegas is expected to see a small rise in foreclosures in the first quarter but not nearly as high as the levels of 2010-2011. Also, investors are expected to see as much as a12% return of investment in the early quarter.  Experts say that prices in Las Vegas will continue to rise in the following 6-12 months, although it is expected to remain a tempting one for investors throughout the year.

 

Reno and Las Vegas Strong Bets for Real Estate Investors

December 27th, 2012

Investing in Reno and Las Vegas real estate properties is one way to ensure that money ends up in your pocket.  Prices are still very low in these two cites after they experienced a deep plunge during the economic bust, but evidence suggests that a strong rebound is currently in progress.   Multiple Listing Services (or MLS) data shows the following evidence of strong growth:

Prices are up

In Las Vegas there was a noticeable 12.4% increase in home prices during October, compared to the previous year.   Reno, on the other hand, showed an increase of 11. 7% compared to the same month of the previous year.  Both cities showed indications that they were improving much faster than other markets in the nation.  Single family homes in Las Vegas went up by 11.9% in October compared to September’s sales.  Townhomes and condominium units rose by 5.7%.

Tightening of inventories

Both markets are seeing significantly reduced inventories.  Reno’s inventory decreased by almost 30%, while in Las Vegas, inventory went down by 24.4% over the last 12 months.

Declining Foreclosure rates

Tough new foreclosure rules that are now being implemented in Nevada helped to reduce both city’s foreclosure rates.  Before the new foreclosure rules, foreclosure rates were at one for every 39 homes, one of the steepest in the country.  Now however, the foreclosure rate has much improved and currently stands one for every 139 houses.

Lowering of Unemployment

Unemployment rates are still a problem for both cities, but as the economy improves in these areas more jobs will almost certainly be created.  And while both the economy and job growth are still a bit on the shaky side, several factors predict that these two cities are set for a stable rebound, meaning it would be a smart decision to make your move in the real estate market now.

 

Las Vegas Home Asking Prices Up

December 26th, 2012

Listed home prices in Las Vegas rose 13.7 percent last November from a year earlier, according to the online property listing service Trulia.com, which also noted that rents in the same comparative period inched downwards by 0.7 percent.

Signs of a rebound, meanwhile, were also observed in cities of inland California and Atlanta which were erstwhile lagging in the home market recovery, the chief economist of Trulia, Jed Kolko, said. He noted that in the metro area of Riverside-San Bernardino, California, a 5.5 percent price gain was achieved on a quarter-over-quarter basis.

Using the same time frame, a 5.3 percent increase was recorded for Sacramento, the economist said, adding that the increases in these two California metro areas were among the top 10 highest nationally. Their recent performance represents a significant turnaround from what they achieved early this year. Hit hard by the housing market’s meltdown, these metropolitan areas had been slow to recover than other hard-hit cities, like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Miami which have already benefited from the recent price rebounds.

The asking price for homes in the largest 100 U.S. metropolitan areas gained by 0.8 percent in November, and by 2.2 percent in a quarter-over-quarter comparison. These increases were the biggest on a quarterly and yearly basis since the start of the housing crisis, Kolko said. He likewise noted that the November monthly gain was only slightly lower than the October increase which is likely to be the highest for this year.

In contrast to the steady increases in the biggest among these 100 metro areas, prices are wavering in many other cities, Kolko observed. He also noted a 5.6 percent increase of rents from a year earlier. Nevertheless, gains in home prices are accelerating faster than rents in the majority of the largest rental markets. Kolko believes that the recent trend toward home affordability is losing its steam in the big cities.

A forward-looking index, the Trulia asking price monitor cannot yet be compared with other similar indicators. It won’t be until January 2013 that November figures from other sales price indexes, such as CoreLogic and Case-Schiller, will be released. One of the latest sales reports that have come in is from the Las Vegas-based SalesTraq which showed an average October closing price of $124,000 for existing homes, an 18.1 percent increase from a year earlier. Gains in average home prices have been recorded for nine consecutive months, for a 24 percent increase from the $100,000 median price this January.

 

 

Las Vegas Museum Honors African American Architect

December 24th, 2012

The newly opened Neon Museum in Las Vegas more than preserves the vintage neon lighting that has helped form the iconic image of the city as the entertainment and lifestyle capital of America. The museum also incorporates the restored lobby of La Concha, in homage to this motel’s designer, Paul Revere Williams.

This respected African American architect is well known not only for his designs of movie stars’ homes in Southern California. His claim to fame also goes beyond designing high-end hotels as the designs of several landmarks around Las Vegas and Reno also came from Williams’ drawing boards.

Distinctive A-Frame Cathedral

Besides the 100-room La Concha Motel, Williams is also believed to be the designer of the Guardian Angels Church, which draws attention to Las Vegas Boulevard with its distinctive A-frame. Some of his lesser known works are the Las Vegas residences for the local African American community, which were built during the 1950s. Essentially, these are modest, ranch-style single family homes which Williams designed out of his strong sense of helping his fellow African Americans, according to an architect-historian, Allan Hess.

There are two neighborhoods in the valley which are thought to bear the handiwork of Williams. Actually, there may be three. Carver Park, a former neighborhood around Henderson downtown, was also said to be developed with Williams as the architect. Unfortunately, the Carver Park community no longer exists.

First African American Community in Las Vegas

One that remains and has become prominent is Berkeley Square in West Las Vegas which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. It is regarded as the first neighborhood in Las Vegas to be built for its African American community.

Named after an African American lawyer and newspaper publisher, Berkeley Square was populated by some well-to-do residents with two houses, with one kept exclusively for guests and for out-of-town entertainers.   To this day, Berkeley Square remains an important Las Vegas community. It has a high occupancy rate, and many of its residences are still occupied by the children of the original residents. It is rich with pride and history being the first Las Vegas African American community.

Williams’ craft is likewise thought to be behind the inexpensive homes in Basic Townsite, a small neighborhood surrounding downtown Henderson. The architectural style in this neighborhood appears similar to that of the homes in Berkley Square. Basic Townsite was also primarily developed for African Americans.

Revenues from Strip Resorts Expected to Increase by 2013

December 14th, 2012

According to some analysts, strip resorts are more likely to have a 5.3% increase or 8% decrease in revenue by next year, depending on the performance of the US economy.

Las Vegas-based Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s Global Gaming Group, a real estate brokerage, issued its 2013 investment guide forecasting growth on Strip revenues, assuming that the country dodges another recession.

Growth forecast in Strip revenue is expected to increase about 1.5% to 5.3%. According to NGKF, a 2.5% increase in Strip revenue was observed through June. State Gaming Control Board stated that Strip gaming win has improved by 4%.

This year, operators of Strip hotel-casino have seen benefits from increased visits to the city. The visitation rate to Las Vegas was up by 1.8% through September.

By 2014, SLS Las Vegas will be adding about 1,217 hotel rooms. By next year, 650 additional rooms are planned for the opening of the Downtown Grand.

A few resorts are not seeing the growth trend though. The Stratosphere’s room rate decreased to $48.99 from the previous $50.31.

Consumer health is one factor that affects spending and visitation as measured using the household net worth. This indicator, together with the stock market and housing prices foretells growth by 2013 as indicated by a NGKF report.

The Chinese economy and its effect on high-end baccarat players is another factor to watch as well. The baccarat revenue is expected to decline or increase by 5% as projected by NGKF. However this depends on how the stock markets and the Chinese real estate perform.

According to NGKF, demand for hotel room booking with meetings and conventions is expected to grow by 1% to 4% next year with room prices increasing from 3% to 7%.

By 2013, Las Vegas will host a number of large events however economic events are more likely to cause businesses to put a hold on the group bookings, according to several analysts.

Fred Segal Stores Set at SLS Las Vegas

December 13th, 2012

The upscale Fred Segal apparel retailer will have seven stores at SLS Las Vegas when this hotel opens in 2014. A deal to this effect was signed recently by sbe, the company behind the hotel development, and SANDOW, franchise holder of the Fred Segal retail chain. The stores will occupy 10,000 square feet in the hotel, representing all of its retail space. This marks the first time that a single brand will hold exclusive domain to the retail space of a hotel.

Sam Nazarian, sbe founder, chairman and CEO, expressed elation over what he called a partnership between two powerful brands. He noted that the distinctive style and culture from Los Angeles that Fred Segal brings further strengthens SLS Las Vegas hotel’s upscale market positioning. Similarly, Adam I. Sandow, chairman and CEO of SANDOW, is delighted with creating a unique retail experience at the SLS, noting Las Vegas’ reputation as a haven for the luxury retail market.

A wide range of stylish Fred Segal merchandise spanning various categories will be available at the sbe property. Among the merchandise that the stores will carry are men’s and women’s apparel, swimsuits, jewelry, and other Fred Segal-branded accessories and items. These retail outlets will also feature a highly-curated denim bar, beauty products, books, and art works.

The SLS Las Vegas hotel’s design is from the drawing boards of the iconic designer Philippe Starck. This project is Starck’s first in Las Vegas and his biggest undertaking so far. Upon completion, the property development will be operated as a mixed-use hotel and casino. The hotel will have over 1,600 guest rooms and restaurants. It will also be host to the acclaimed sbe brand portfolio of restaurants and nightlife venues. A world-renowned planning, design and strategic consulting firm Gensler, will handle the Fred Segal boutiques’ integration into the SLS Las Vegas Hotel development. Prior to the 2014 inauguration of SLS Las Vegas, sbe is expected to open a redeveloped SLS Hotel New York on Park Avenue and 33rd Street.