Las Vegas Real Estate News

What's Happening in October

October is my favorite month of the year. This October there is a lot of things going on in the Las Vegas valley so I've composed a list of the best charity, cultural and entertainment events happening next month.

The Age of Chivalry Renaissance Fair - This year the event will be moved back to Sunset Park and will run October 11th, 12th and 13th. There will be hundreds of artisans to demonstrate their wares, live jousting, authentic dining, live music, historical re-enactments and medieval pageantry. Great fun for the whole family. Click this link for free admission.

Lose a PoundLose-a-Pound with your Hound - This funding raise charity walk is for my favorite animal rescue group, Heaven Can Wait Sanctuary. The event is on October 27 at Bunker Family Park located at Tenaya and Alexander.

Register for the event on their website. Single, family and team registrations are available. Walkers will raise money for homeless animals in the valley by gaining sponsors.

After the walk there will be food, entertainment, contests and pet related vendors.

Fright Dome - Rated as one of the top five haunted house attractions in the nation, the Adventuredome at Circus Circus is transformed into a five acre terror theme park starting October 3rd. If you love Halloween, a visit to the Fright Dome should be at the top of your To Do List. There are live shows nightly, six new haunted houses, four scare zones, 4D films and a lot more. I don't recommend this for the faint of heart or young children!

Visit frightdome.com for tickets, a list of attractions and a great promotional video.

PBR Built Ford Tough Series World Finals - October 23 - 27 - Thomas & Mack Center. This is the culminating event for the PBR series that started in January at the famed Madison Square Garden arena in New York City. The top 35 Professional Bull Riders from all over the world will be competing for the million dollar top prize. The event features the PBR Legends Reunion, interactive fan zones, after parties, rider autograph signings and more.

4th Annual Las Vegas Halloween Parade - The parade will be held on October 31st in the art district of downtown Las Vegas. Of course, there will be a costume contest with six different categories including best car/float and best illuminated costume (this is Vegas after all).

Before October 30th, you can sign up at The Coterie, located at 515 Fremont St Las Vegas, NV 89101. The day of the parade you can register at 13th Street and Fremont East between 4 pm and 6 pm. The parade starts at 7 pm with the Costume Parade Winners announced at a free after event at the Main stage at 9 pm.

Alice in Chains - October 26 at the Palms Hotel. Don't miss this chance to see hard rockers Alice in Chains at the intimate Pearl concert hall (2,500 seats and 18 private boxes). Currently on tour after the release of the their recent album "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here", don't miss out on seeing them in a great Vegas venue. The Pearl boasts a state of the art sound system and that "no seat is more than 120 feet from the stage." For ticketing, visit ticketmaster.com.

Las Vegas Real Estate Market is Heating Up

Summer temperatures aren't the only thing that is rising in Las Vegas. Thanks to a large influx of investors, the Las Vegas homes market is going crazy. According to figures from the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors (GLVAR), the median price for a single-family home in the Las Vegas valley is up 32.8 percent from a year ago.

The market has become reminiscent of the boom years, where homeowners were being solicited to sell their home. It is now common place to see listings stating offer not contingent upon appraisal.

To put it in layman's terms, in a traditional marketplace your offer would be contingent upon the appraisal matching your offer, i.e. if the property appraised for less, your offer was void and you would offer to buy the property based on what it appraised for.

Now what we are seeing in the Las Vegas real estate market are a lot of cash offers higher than the asking price. Some segments of the market is hasn't affected too much due to financing restrictions like luxury high rise condos. Most of those properties you will have a harder time getting financing for but there are a couple of exceptions like Mira Villa in Summerlin.

Another big factor in the market's recovery were the changes in Nevada's foreclosure laws in October of 2011. Lenders are now required to produce a clear title and other relevant documents making it more difficult for banks to foreclose. After the law went into effect foreclosures slowed to a mere trickle compared to the prior months. The rest is economy 101, supply goes down, prices go up.

If you are thinking about buying or selling a home in Las Vegas, you can reach me at 702-493-8033. Thanks for stopping by!

Where To Build A Wine Cellar In Vegas

Living life in the fast lane is definitely the way to go when you live in Las Vegas. But there are also a few disadvantages when you indulge in such an exciting atmosphere. For one thing, it’s pretty much a crowded city, particularly during the peak season (which is just about every season) like the hot summer months. Indeed, the summer heat in Vegas can be just as feverish as the excitement that goes on when night time in the city rolls in. So here’s a tricky question: Is it possible for one to have a residential wine cellar when living right in the heart of the city?

The answer is a definite yes! Gone are the days when you have to settle for a passive wine cellar such as a basement wine cellar when the area you live in is literally cranking up the heat. Even under the Vegas sun, you can still build a custom wine cellar in your home to store your prized collection securely and comfortably. There are actually an extensive number of options! A spare room, closet, or creating a glass-enclosed cellar in your living space are just some of the more common ones.

You can also be more innovative and utilize seemingly useless nooks and crannies, like that empty space under the stairs. If space is really a bit of an issue, then a wine cabinet or compact wine tasting station are some space-efficient alternatives. You can have them in your dining area, kitchen, or even in the bedroom! The most important thing to keep in mind is that your cellar or cabinet should be kept under proper storage conditions which would be a temperature range of 55-58 degrees and 55-75% relative humidity. This is made possible by selecting the most appropriate wine cooling unit.

These days, you’ll find so many brands and models for these wine cooling units. But note that not all of them will serve your storage needs. You’ll have to make sure that the unit you purchase is best suited for your wine cellar, taking into account its location, size, and the maximum bottle capacity, among other factors. Since we’re looking into beating the Vegas heat, doing a heat load calculation to ensure your cellar meets the necessary specifications is indispensable. It’s especially the case if you’re looking into installing a ductless split system which is fairly common for enclosed residential spaces. That being said, it pays to seek professional assistance when selecting the right wine cellar cooling unit and installing the same.

So with that, you can keep your bottles safe, cool, and super comfy regardless of where your wine cellar will be in your Las Vegas home. Happy building! Cheers!

Author: Cynette Montoya is a blogger for Wine Cellar Innovations, a wine cellar and wine racks manufacturer out of Cincinnati, Ohio. They create DIY wine racks along with custom wine cellar solutions. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

When is the Right Time to Call for Plumbing Repair?

We use our plumbing systems every single day. In some cases, it can be easy to know when to call for plumbing repair. If your toilets are backed up or if your sink is leaking you know to call your plumber. But there are some plumbing problems that are harder to detect. For almost 20 years the experts at Yes! Air Conditioning and Plumbing have been offering quality plumbing repair to our customers. Our plumbers have responded to countless calls for service and know how to handle any kind of plumbing problem. We thought it would be a great idea to put together some of the things that you should look for that will help you find those hard-to-find issues.

Sewer and Water Main Leaks

Your home’s sewer and water mains are likely buried deep underground. Because of that it can be difficult to know when you may need plumbing repair. But there are a few signs that astute homeowners will be able to see.

• Smell of sewage – If you start to notice the smell of sewage around your property it could mean that you have a leak or crack in your sewer line. Not only is this unpleasant but it likely means that you will have to dig up the pipe and fix it or replace it. The friendly plumbers at Yes! Air Conditioning and Plumbing can definitely help with this.
• Soggy or raised patches – When you see soggy patches or raised patches of ground on your property call Yes! Air Conditioning and Plumbing. This is usually sign that your water line or sewer line is leaking and you need plumbing repair.
• Water bill – Another way that you can detect problems with your water main is if you start to see your water bill increase without any corresponding increase in usage. This likely means that there is a leak in your pipes somewhere and it could be in your water main.

Other Water Leaks

While some water leaks are easy to detect there can be others that are out of site. If you start to notice puddles of water around your home the leak might not necessarily be close to where those puddles are. Finding the leaks can actually be quite difficult without the proper equipment. Here at Yes! Air Conditioning and Plumbing we use advanced equipment to quickly find any leaks that you might be having so we can repair the problem as quickly as possible and avoid further damage.

When you need professional plumbing repair in Las Vegas make sure that you call the friendly experts at Yes! Air Conditioning & Plumbing. We respond quickly and will be able to solve any issues that you might be having.

This guest post appears courtesy of Yes! Air Conditioning & Plumbing, a plumbing company in Las Vegas specializing in repair, leak detection, and other plumbing services. Call us when you need professional plumbing repair in Las Vegas.

The Secret to Saving on Energy Costs this Summer

Most homeowners are looking for energy savings for their air conditioning systems, especially during the summer. We run our AC systems a lot here in Nevada and making sure that your system is working as efficiently as possible is a big priority. Yes! Air Conditioning and Plumbing has over 20 years of experience providing quality services to our customers and helping them with their air conditioning energy savings. We wanted to put together some of the ways that you can potentially reduce your energy costs this summer.

Attic Insulation

One of the most important things that you can do to increase the energy savings of your home is to make sure that your attic has enough insulation and that it is in good condition. As your attic heats up, a lot of that heat can leech into your home. This means that your air conditioning system has to work harder to cool your home. By reducing the amount of work that your air conditioning system does you could increase energy savings.

Radiant Barriers

While insulation is a huge part of your home’s efficiency, it can only protect you against certain types of heat movement. Radiant barriers allow homeowners to add another layer of protection to their home. The heat that strikes your home from the sun is heat radiation. Traditional insulation normally protects your home from heat convection and heat conduction. Radiant barriers can greatly reduce the amount of heat that gets into your home through the walls and attic.

Attic Ventilation

A great way to lower the temperature of your attic is to give the heat someplace to go. Proper attic ventilation can allow much of that heat to escape outside. By getting proper ventilation systems for your attic you can potentially increase the energy savings of your air conditioning system because it will not need to work as hard to keep the house cool.

Duct Sealing

In some cases, duct leaks or cracks can allow up to 30% of the cooled air to escape outside. This is obviously very wasteful and can greatly reduce the energy savings of your air conditioning system. By sealing up your ductwork you can keep more of the cooled air inside your home where it belongs.

If you’re interested in increasing energy savings in your Las Vegas home call the air conditioning experts at Yes! Air Conditioning & Plumbing. We can visit your home and develop a good plan of action to reduce your energy usage and increase your efficiency.

About the Author:

This guest post appears courtesy of Yes! Air Conditioning & Plumbing, an HVAC company in Las Vegas specializing in air conditioning installation and repair. Call us today to talk with one of our friendly Las Vegas air conditioning experts.

Top Five Retirement Communities in the Las Vegas Valley

The Las Vegas valley is home to many communities for those 55 and better. Whether you want to live in an adult only community in North Las Vegas, Henderson, Las Vegas or even Boulder City, you have that choice. Not all retirement communities were created equally, however. So I've put together a list of my top picks for the valley. Communities are ranked by several factors, including amenities, price, construction, cost to run the home, feedback from friends living in the community, etc. If your community isn't on the list, feel free to vote for it by leaving a comment and why you like living there.

The popularity of senior living communities has continued to grow over the last decade in the valley. It is not surprising given the many benefits for retirees to move to Las Vegas: no income tax, lower housing costs, a wide variety of dining, shopping and entertainment choices, dry climate and a low cost of living make it an excellent choice for the active adult. According to US News, Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing retirement spots in the US. Given the current climate of the Las Vegas real estate market it is definitely a buyer's market. So here are my top five picks:

  1. Sun City Anthem in Henderson - this Del Webb community is located in Green Valley in the Anthem Country Club. Winner of numerous awards, the community offers first rate amenities, energy efficient homes and access to nearby medical facilities, fine dining and shopping. Residents can enjoy a wide range of outdoor and indoor activities at the Anthem community center.
  2. Sun City Summerlin - another Del Webb community located in the gorgeous master planned community of Summerlin developed by the Howard Hughes Corporation. This was the Del Webb's first senior living community in the Las Vegas valley. The village was completed in 1998 and residents enjoy a wide range of golfing choices (three semi private courses). The community has been meticulously maintained. Aside from a great game of golf, there are also tennis and raquetball facilities, fantastic local shops and dining options and access to all of Summerlin's amenities.
  3. Ardiente - originally developed by Centex homes, new homes are still available from Shea Homes. Currently it is the only planned senior community in North Las Vegas. Potential home owners have multiple "green" options available on all new Shea homes at Ardiente including 3kW rooftop solar systems. The community is guard gated, with two swimming pools, bocce ball court, tennis, walking trails, fitness center and a beautiful clubhouse.
  4. Solera at Anthem - this is a smaller Del Webb community inside Anthem Country Club. Solera features villa style homes built with the latest energy saving features like Low E windows and concoon insulation. Residents have access to all of the amenities that Anthem Country Club has to offer.
  5. Lake Mountain Estates - located in Boulder City, this community of manufactured homes is unique because the owner also owns the land the home resides on. The community offers views of Lake Mead and has very low home association fees. Amenities include a community center and swimming pool.

There are several more retirement communities in Las Vegas and Henderson to choose from. If you are thinking about buying a retirement property, feel free to contact me with your requirements and I would be happy to send you current listings. Thanks for reading our Las Vegas real estate news blog and please stop by again. 

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Why You Should Insist on a Home Security System

By Ryan Huser 

Many people do not live in what they would necessarily consider permanent “homes” when they are starting out. For example, you may be accustomed to living in college dormitories, or in small apartments by yourself or with friends, or with a significant other. However, your living arrangements are likely change when you start a family. Many new parents, newlywed couples, or growing families tend to experience the exciting but sometimes daunting task of buying and moving into a new home. There are a ton of things to consider when making this change. Perhaps the most important one, however, is how secure your new living space is going to be for you and your family.

Many new Las Vegas homes, especially these days, come equipped with fairly strong basic security features (dead bolt locks on outside doors, smoke detectors, etc.). However, if you wish for your first home to be as safe and secure as possible, you will probably want to look into the features and benefits offered by professional security companies, so that you can make your family a "home security family". Again, the basics are very necessary: you will want dead bolt locks on your doors, smoke detectors and secure window locks. These are essentials for any home that you are thinking of purchasing. However, a professional home security company can offer you much, much more.

The house alarm is a good place to start when explaining the advantages of professional home security. While the basic house alarm is generally set to sound a loud alert and notify the authorities in the event of an attempted break-in, advanced house alarm systems are even more capable. Now, it is fairly common for people to hook their alarm systems up to their personal cell phone and the internet. So now while you are away you can access your system remotely through your phone, meaning that you can set your alarm, view security cameras and check on your house’s security from virtually anywhere there is cell phone service or an internet connection. Additionally, alarms can now contact the authorities via your cell network in the event that the home phone network fails, for whatever reason.

There are also innumerable other benefits offered by professional home security systems, in addition to advanced alarms. For example, they can install everything from laser trip wires to carbon monoxide detectors, fire alarms and even recording video equipment, depending on what level of security you desire for your home. Ultimately, these are decisions that you and your family will make depending on your own security needs. Aside from the obvious benefits of having a home security system, some home owner insurance companies will give you a discount on your home owner's insurance for having one installed.

About the Author:

Ryan Huser works for Home Security Family, an authorized ADT dealer.

The Banking Hypocrisy

Bank owned(foreclosed upon) properties still make up a major portion of listings in Las Vegas and other hard hit areas such as Phoenix, Miami, etc. Some of these bank owned properties may have been on the market for months or even years before being sold. In Las Vegas many were never even lived in. So, from a logical stand point, America’s banks should be eager to get these properties off the market. After all, these properties are accruing more debt for the bank. HOA fees, property taxes and utility bills will continue to pile up and are necessary to be paid in full at closing by the bank.

A client of mine came to me with their own conventional financing in place through let’s say BANK A. My client has perfect credit and 30% to put down. We got a full price offer accepted on a discounted luxury property in Lake Las Vegas now selling for just under $200,000. The HOA fees for this V Lake Las Vegas townhome are approximately $900 per month, which makes them very hard to sell, since so few people are willing to pay more than triple the normal association fees in Las Vegas. Our client was happy to do it, and as luck would have it, BANK A was also the owner of the foreclosed property. What a win/win situation! BANK A would no longer be in possession of a property slowly depreciating  vacantly in the Nevada desert, and would not be accruing $900 per month in unused association fees, since the new owner would take over the fees at closing. Then BANK A decided not to sell to it’s own client. Can’t take the risk because not enough people actually live there. Too many investors, not enough people in primary residence.

So here is the hypocrisy. The bank is willing to sell the property but will not finance it, even with a 30% down payment and guarantee that the buyer is going to live in it. Banks turning down offers is nothing new. Last month the Denver ABC News affiliate ran a story about a veteran Joel Brown getting his offers turned down because he was trying to use his VA loan.  What it really boils down to is blatant misuse of funds. I thought that banks were bailed out in large part to get our economy moving yet it is harder than ever for even the best qualified buyers to borrow from their own banks! Fire sales are going on for investors with cash. Banks would rather wait and sell the property to an investor for cash than finance it. All of the major banks that were caught holding worthless mortgages got more than their fair share of tarp funds to tide them over.

So investors come along, scoop up heavily discounted properties for cash then turn around and resell them for a profit….to the home buyers that couldn’t originally get a loan on them in the first place. There is even a bank that allows these flip properties to be sold before the 60 day minimum resale rule on FHA loans. Let’s call that one Bank W. There are rules regarding this of course, but with over a million distressed properties on the market who has time to make sure anyone is following the rules?

Feel free to comment below if you or one of your clients has run into the same problem. Thanks for stopping by our Las Vegas real estate news blog.

Top 10 cities with Affordable Housing

Waiting for the right time to buy a home? That time is NOW. According to a study done by Deutsche Bank cited by CNN Money, the right time to buy a home is now based on affordability and the cost of owning a property versus renting it. Here are the top cities with the most affordable real estate:

Top 10 Cities

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. Orlando, FL
  3. Rochester, NY
  4. Cleveland, OH
  5. Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL
  6. Las Vegas, NV
  7. Jacksonville, FL
  8. St. Louis, MO
  9. Buffalo, NY
  10. Memphis, TN

Las Vegas Real Estate

Las Vegas homes are coming in at number six on the list. The metrics the study used were two fold. First it looks at the percentage of their income the average homeowner pays in after tax costs: home mortgage payment, real estate taxes and home owner's insurance.  The study found the current percentage is 9.8%, down from 17.2% at the height of the bubble in 2007. Second the study looks at the cost of ownership versus renting. One of my clients is currently looking to move to Las Vegas from Boulder City and rent a home. We found a suitable home for $1,150 a month. The identical floor plan was for sale across the street and would cost him $864 a month to own it. Las Vegas is not alone in this phenomenon. The study found that in 28 out of 54 major housing markets it is now cheaper to own a home than it is to rent the same house. Here are the Las Vegas housing statistics according to the study:

Rent as % of after tax mortgage payment: 125.1%
Median home price change, 2006-2010: -56.5%

Investors Making a Move

Shawn Tully of Fortune Finance interviewed Dotan Y. Melech, who owns UnitedAMS. UnitedAMS manages apartments and other properties and has raised more than 20 million from outside investors to specifically buy distressed properties. According to the article, Mr. Melech has bought around 300 Las Vegas homes and is planning on buying another 200 before the end of the year. His justification is simple. Occupancy rates are high, around 95% and the cap rate is between 8% and 10%. Melech also targets a specific demographic when choosing his renters---people who lost their own property but are reliable renters. The Las Vegas rental market is booming due to the high number of foreclosures. Many renters having lost their home to foreclosure are unable to buy an affordable home due to bad credit.

More than half of the sales in Las Vegas are cash (if you are buying a Las Vegas condo, cash may be your only option).

National Real Estate Market

Other hard hit foreclosure areas like Phoenix, Miami and parts of Northern California are starting to see improvements as well. One of the biggest factors is the dwindling supply of new homes into the market. The Phoenix real estate market has a total of 8,100 new home, down from 53,000 in mid 2006. Another factor is the absorption rate of foreclosures. Foreclosures can radically effect pricing because of the randomness of their markdown pricing. MIT economist William Wheaton was quoted saying "We had levels of inventory even higher than this in 1990 and 1991. But they were traditional listings, not foreclosures so they didn't create the big discounts you get with foreclosures." Mr. Wheaton is right on the money. Foreclosures have pushed prices down past historic values creating an artificial market price. As less and less homes go into foreclosures, prices will soar back up to historic levels.

Thanks for reading our Las Vegas real estate blog.

Sources: CNN Money

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Prison Inmates Claim the Tax Credit

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The First Time Home Buyer tax credit has been the target of many debates over the last year. Originally crafted by the Bush administration and then expanded by the Obama administration, is in the process of being extended yet again to allow more potential homebuyers to take advantage of it. If passed, the new deadline could be moved to September 30 of this year. The goal of the credit was to boost the nation's ailing housing markets and help stabilize the economy.

Has it been effective? It depends on who you talk to. The National Association of Realtors credits a million new home sales directly to the tax credit. However not everything has been coming up roses. A big complaint among consumers is the wait to receive the credit. Initially home buyers were told to expect the credit with 12 weeks of filing an amendment, but some have reported waiting five months or even longer. The long delays have not endeared the IRS to taxpayers waiting on their refunds. The internet is awash is speculation about the reasons for the delays and how they can speed up the process.

Some recent events have shed some light on the causes for the delays in receiving the tax credit.

The tax credit generated a flood of amended returns for both the 2008 and 2009 tax season. With fraud on the rise, more returns were being audited and the results were appalling. Now, an investigation has been launched by the Treasury Department Inspector General for the tax administration, J. Russell George. The report generated by the investigation focused on taxpayers who claimed both the 2008 and 2009 First Time Home Buyer tax credit.

The report showed more than 14,100 taxpayers wrongly received at $26.7 million in tax credits. The fact that some taxpayers decided to try to fraudulently claim the credit isn't the most shocking thing; it’s who was able to get the credit.

Roughly 1,300 prison inmates received over $9 million in tax credits for homebuyers at the time they were incarcerated when they claimed they bought a home according to a government investigator. 4,608 state and federal inmates filed for the credits. 241 of the inmates who received the credit were serving life sentences.

How were so many prisoners able to falsely claim the credit? Part of the blame does fall on the IRS because they don't keep current records of who is in prison, according the IG report. Another reason is that prisons are not required to provide the IRS with information about inmates, although many do voluntarily. IRS spokesman Frank Keith defended their recent track record, stating "When the IRS has reliable data, we do a very effective job of using it to ensure compliance. When the IRS does not have reliable data, it is a much more difficult process for us."

The IRS also claims to have blocked almost 400,000 questionable claims and opened over 150 criminal investigations. In its statement, the IRS claims that "These aggressive efforts have saved taxpayers more than $1 billion."

Keith also stated that the IRS has asked Congress to enact legislation to ensure the agency gets up-to-date inmate information. In the interim, the IRS plans to reach out to prison officials to start a task force to improve inmate information sharing.

However it isn't just inmates cashing in on the tax credit falsely. The IG report estimates that 2,555 taxpayers wrongly received over $17 million in tax credits for homes that were bought prior to the tax credit being enacted. Another estimated 10,282 taxpayers received credits for properties that were also used by someone else to claim the credit. 206 taxpayers filed for the credit on multiple addresses. And to add insult to injury, investigators also found 87 IRS employees who may have improperly claimed the credit, although the review is still ongoing.

It’s no wonder that the average taxpayer is waiting over 16 weeks to get tax credit. Obviously, there was an error in estimating the effectiveness of the tax credit and the unfortunate side effects.

Mr. George had this to say in a statement. "This is very troubling. Congress created and modified the homebuyer credit to stimulate the economy and help taxpayers achieve the American dream, not to line the pockets of wrongdoers." Of course the IRS is taking action to reclaim the cash. According to IRS figures, over 2.6 million taxpayers claimed the tax credit through the April deadline. All things considered, the amount of fraud uncovered so far has been minimal, but its just more fuel for the fire. Taxpayers are tired of hearing about delays or requests for the same paperwork they have already submitted.

Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Mundaca stated that, despite its problems, the homebuyer tax credit helped to spur more than 2.5 million new home purchases and helped to stabilize the housing market.

If you are one of the thousands of taxpayers still waiting for your refund, there are a couple of things you can do. First, you can contact a tax advocate. They will help you make sure you have submitted the correct paperwork and that the IRS has received it. Second, you can contact the IRS directly to check on the status of your refund. Quite often the IRS representative will give you a rough time frame in which you can expect your credit. The IRS will also pay you interest on your credit as well.

Given the rather large pool of taxpayers claiming credit the amount of fraud uncovered so far has been minimal. However as a result, the processing time of returns is now longer than ever.

So as a home buyer, would say that the First Time Home Buyer tax credit was a primary factor in your decision to buy a home? Please feel free to answer in comments.

Thank you for reading our Las Vegas real estate blog.

Source: Associated Press, IRS.com