Las Vegas Real Estate News

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A Rise in the Condo Market

According to a recent story by the local CBS affiliate, the Las Vegas high rise market has seen an increase in sales. Without actually citing any specific sales numbers, channel 8 interviewed a couple of local realtors to base their story on. Interestingly enough one of them stated that the high rise market is catching up with the single family home market.

If you have been watching the market, you will have watched prices on high rise condos steadily decrease right along with single family homes for the last several years.  There hasn't been a recent price drop. The problem most communities faced over the last few years was the unavailability of financing for customers already under contract. Its the very reason that forced CityCenter to lower its prices so customers under contract were able to obtain financing for their units. The report did get one thing right, it is a good time to buy a high rise condos and prices may go down further.

So where are the "great" deals? That really depends on the style of community you want to live in. One of my favorite communities is One Queensridge Place.  When it comes to elegance, no other community can compete. The units are large (starting at 2,000 square feet) and  is located just minutes from world class shopping, several golf courses and the I95 freeway. Prices started in the millions originally when the project was announced. 

If you would like listings of some great high rise condos, feel free to contact me at 702-493-8033. Thanks for visiting our Las Vegas real estate blog

Real Estate Update

The construction industry in Las Vegas has slowed down considerably compared to prior years. For a while, it seemed that a new project was opening every other month. With the national economy in a slump, tourism has fallen and massive foreclosures, builders weren't eager to put new communities on the market.

Despite the odds, last month saw the grand opening of the largest green project in the state, CityCenter. CityCenter obtained gold LEED ratings, making it one of the greenest projects in the US. Overall, new construction is down but not as much as one would think according to a recent article in the Las Vegas Review Journal. Heavy construction has resumed at Tivoli Village at Queensridge with the first phase scheduled to open in December of this year. Unfortunately the project was not immune to the market. The planned  Queensridge condominiums units have been put on permanent hold. Tivoli Village isn't the only project to be scaled back. Condos at the Harmon at CityCenter were also scrapped, although the official reason given was that it was due to a construction defect in the original plan, not because of the market. Some builders have stopped construction completely while others are going ahead with their plans.

Lennar, Richmond American, Pulte and other large builders are still rolling out new homes but have scaled back construction. A good example of would be Canyon Springs. Lennar Homes is holding the grand opening of the community tomorrow. There are seven immediate move-in homes available and another 12 homes will be complete by March 31. Lennar isn't the only builder to downsize communities either. Some builders have gone so far as to suspend all new community construction and even halt building on partially finished communities. Overall construction in the valley is down just over six percent, so there are plenty of new homes to choose from. New home builders are still feeling the pinch of so many foreclosed properties available on the Las Vegas real estate market. To lure in homebuyers, builders are offering some great deals to entice homebuyers to buy 'new'.

If you are thinking about buying a new home and would like a list of brand new properties on the market, feel free to contact me. Thanks for stopping by our Las Vegas real estate blog.

First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Extended

There has been a lot of debate of the First Time Home Buyer Tax credit in the last several months, intensifying as the original November 30 deadline approached. Today, President Barack Obama signed into law bill H. R. 3548, granting an extension of the credit until April 30, 2010. The measure passed with an unprecedented show of bi-partisanship with a vote of 403-12 in the house and the Senate approving it unanimously.

First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Changes

The bill made some changes to the original tax credit, aside from extending the deadline to April 30, 2010 to claim it. However, you have until June 30, 2010 to close on a property and still be able to claim the credit. So, say you put in an offer on a home towards the end of April next year. The offer is accepted and you open escrow on the 28th. As long as you close escrow before June 30, you can still claim the credit (of course, you have to meet the other requirements as well).

Credit Extended to Current Home Owners

Another significant change to the original credit is the addition of a smaller credit of $6,500 for current home owners if they purchase a new primary residence. There are of course, some requirements. In order to qualify for the credit, existing home owners must have lived in their primary residence for the last consecutive five years of out eight. The new home purchased can't exceed more than $800,000. You must also meet the new income requirements (see below) and just like first time home buyers, you must live in the new home for at least three years. Otherwise, you will be forced to repay the credit.

Income Limits

The other major change to the tax credit is the raising of the income limits. Under the original tax credit, a single person could earn no more than $75,000 a year and married couples $150,000. Now the income eligibility limits for both groups of home buyers have been raised to $125,000 a year for singles and $225,000 for married couples.

Military Personnel

Members of the Armed Forces and certain federal employees serving outside the U.S. have an extra year to buy a principal residence in the U.S. and still qualify for the credit. An eligible taxpayer must buy or enter into a binding contract to buy a home by April 30, 2011, and settle on the purchase by June 30, 2011.

The bill H. R. 3548 also extended unemployment benefits for another 14 weeks for those out of work people who have exhausted their benefits. It also provides additional tax relief for small businesses.

Thank you for reading our real estate blog and feel free to contact us for all of your Las Vegas NV real estate needs.  

Source: Associated Press

Time Running Out for the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

Attention to all of you sitting on the fence. Time is running out for the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit. Rumors have been flying around Washington for the last several months about a possible extension of the credit, but do you really want to gamble on the Federal government? After all, congress could simply reinstate the 2008 tax credit of $7,500  again that has to be paid back!

The 2009 credit officially ends on November 30th of 2009. In order to claim it, you have to meet certain qualifications which have been posted on this site. The major hurdle facing any buyer that wishes to claim the credit is closing in time. Right now, unless you are paying cash, homes are taking anywhere from 35 to 45 days or more to close escrow from the time the offer has been accepted.

What does that mean for you? Simply put, if you are looking to buy a property this month, in order for you to close in time to claim the credit, the property needs to be in escrow as soon as possible. Preferably, by the end of next week at the very, very latest.

This only applies to bank owned homes. If you are buying a new Las Vegas home or condo directly from the builder or an actual regular listing being sold by the owner, then you have up until the end of the month to get your offer accepted and escrow started. Many new home builders are stating that they will guarantee close of escrow before November 30th on any of their homes.

The Las Vegas real estate market is still a buyer's market (as are most of the major real estate markets in US) and you have to allow additional time to close escrow on a property. If you are currently thinking about buying a property and claiming the tax credit, you might want to consider a new home. New home builders are offering some fantastic deals right now and you'll avoid a lot of headaches as far as closing on the property.

Thanks for stopping by our Las Vegas real estate blog and feel free to share your experiences with us.

Las Vegas Property Auctions - Deal or No Deal?

There was a time when I would be excited by the prospect of a property auction in Las Vegas. Back then, auctions were a huge deal and very rare. Buyers could have the opportunity to pick up a home or condo far below market price.

Now, there seems to be an auction every month and the "deals" aren't just what they used to be. Of course, the whole point of an auction is to generate excitement and in the heat of the moment, get people to spend more than they want to. Add to that the buyer's premium that can range up to 10% of the winning bid, plus closing costs and suddenly that great deal isn't as great as it used to be.

That being said, there are a couple of auctions this month coming up. The first one is for the Monterey condos at the Las Vegas Country Club (condo conversion). There will be 45 condominiums auctioned off on August 16th. This statement from the auction company sums up what I mean about auctions: "This once-in-a-lifetime event will be a great opportunity for buyers to gain ownership in one of Las Vegas' premier communities," said Keith McLane, president of REDC's builder division.

Unless you attended the last auction for Monterey condos they held back in October of last year. The buyer's premium for this auction is 5% and you'll need to bring a cashier's check for $2,500. You also must register 48 hours before the event.

Later this month Newport Lofts will also be holding an auction for 20 new lofts on August 29th. Reserve prices have been posted and range from $90,000 up to $450,000. You are required to buy a bidder's packet by mail for $10 in order to bid on the property. The buyer's premium is 6% of the winning bid. You must also present a cashier's check for $7,500 to $15,000 in order to be able to bid on the properties. Registration begins at 2 pm the day of the auction.

If you decide to attend either auction, I highly recommend that you have your own agent with you. Auction companies don't prohibit you from having one, but they certainly don't mind if you don't have one. Also, never bid on a property that you have not throughly inspected in person---EVER. A quick search on google will give you dozens of horror stories about auctioned properties that weren't inspected prior to purchase (don't get me started about "virtual auctions" on the internet). True there are disclosures given by the auction company about the properties, but you would hire a home inspection professional for any property that you would buy in a regular transaction---but most people that buy at an auction don't. Part of the buyer's premium you are forced to pay goes toward having a buyer's agent. Since you are stuck paying it, you might as well get the benefit of having your own agent.

With so many bank owned properties already on the market, going to an auction is kind of a moot point. Prices are depressed below what experts deem a "historic" value already (what a condo or home would be worth in a normal market here). Another thing to consider are the closing costs. Most foreclosure properties will pay buyer's closing costs or at least a good percentage of them.

If you would like to see what is currently on the market for Newport Lofts or Monterey Condos, feel free to use our property search to do some research.

Las Vegas Housing Market: Foreclosures Down, Sales Up

Happy days are here again for home buyers. SalesTraq has just rolled out its latest data analysis of the Las Vegas real estate market and its great news if you are thinking about buying a home. Bottom line: home prices are now at levels not seen in the Las Vegas valley since 1998! There is one caveat. Real estate is still very much locally driven and areas that haven’t had a lot of repossessions also don’t have the large prices drop either.

Not everyone will be happy with the news (read investors, home owners that need to sell) but overall its good news for Las Vegas. Low home prices were one of the main attractions the valley held for people moving here from other states, especially from California. Over the last few years home prices had skyrocketed, preventing a lot of valley residents from the dream of home ownership.

According to the SalesTraq report, the median price of existing homes dropped to $125,000 in April. That’s a 57% drop since the price peak in June of 2006. In April of 2008 the average price per square foot was $135.73. That has dropped 42% down to $78.58.

Home sales are also up. April saw the largest number of home sales since June of 2006. 4,063 existing homes were sold, an increase of 437 from the prior month and just shy of the 4,198 sold in June of 2006. Compared to April of last year, that is an increase of 78 percent. Of the homes sold in April, 62% were bank owned (foreclosures). The median price of REO homes sold was $115,000, $30,000 less than non-bank owned properties according to SalesTraq.

So not surprisingly foreclosures are statistically the best bargains and count for a significant number of sales. The report also shows that April had the fewest number of foreclosures (1,289) in the last 16 months. This is third consecutive month that number of homes going into foreclosure has dropped and the second month where sales have exceeded home repossessions.

According to SalesTraq, the current inventory of existing home is 16,202, the lowest since April 2006 and roughly down 4,400 from January of this year. While this could be a sign of recovery for the market, many experts expect another surge of repossessions later in the year, despite the new government programs. Another factor fueling home sales is the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit. That program expires on December 1st later this year and will undoubtedly affect sales.

Related:

Looking at the Las Vegas Real Estate Market

Hope for Distressed Homeowners

Recently, the guidelines for President Obama’s Making Home Affordable program were finally released. The program is designed to drastically reduce the number of homes falling into foreclosure by allowing up to 9 million homeowners to refinance or modify their existing home loans.

There are some very specific criteria you must meet to qualify. Here are the qualification criteria:

  • You must owe between 80% to 105% of your mortgage. What does that mean? The number reflects your mortgage to home value ratio. In other words, you can only owe between 80% and 105% of your home’s current market value. There is some market data that suggests approximately 25% of mortgage holders nation wide will qualify. Because of the large numbers of foreclosed homes in the Las Vegas valley, several areas have seen home values fall by up to 50% or more from prices in 2006. So you'll need to get a current, accurate appraisal of your home's value.
  • Your loan must be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. If you’re not sure, you can call 1-800-7FANNIE and 1-800-FREDDIE to check. You can also check online.
  • Be within the conforming loan limits. The conforming amount will vary by city. For example, high cost areas like Boston, New York or Washington DC will have higher conforming loan limits than say, Des Moines.
  • Visit financialstability.gov and complete the Q&A to see if you qualify under the guidelines. It will determine if you qualify for loan modification or refinancing.

Other Options

Even if you don’t qualify for government program, that doesn’t mean you’re out of options. With so many foreclosures hitting the market, banks are more inclined to negotiate with homeowners rather then foreclose. You can contact your bank directly to renegotiate your home loan. There are several options available to you, depending on your situation. In the case of a temporary setback, you might negotiate an option called forbearance, where your bank agrees to suspend monthly mortgage payments for a set time. After which you resume making your normal monthly payments and start paying back the payments you missed.

You may also try to renegotiate the loan, to reduce the monthly payments to a more affordable level, as well as changing the terms of the loan from something like an adjustable rate mortgage to a standard fixed rate mortgage.

If there is no possible way for you to keep your home, you may also want to consider a short sale and sell the property. In order to do that, you’ll need an agreement from your mortgage holder(s). They’ll need to approve the short sale price and any offers on the property must be approved by them.

All of these options and more are available and can be done by you. Be aware that there are predators out there that will try to charge you exorbitant fees to “help you” avoid foreclosure. There are plenty of state, federal and non-profit organizations out there that will help you free of charge. Don’t throw good money after bad! Talk to your lender first and see what your options are.

**Update

On April 28th, the Obama Administration came through on its promise to help homeowners who are facing foreclosure and couldn’t modify their existing loan.  The initial program has been expanded to include second mortgages. Quite a few homeowners were unable to secure new financing due to a second mortgage on the property. According to Obama administration officials, it's estimated that as many as 1.5 million homeowners could be helped by addressing second mortgages.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Tax Credits

With so much attention being given to the new first time home buyer tax credit, some potentially lucrative tax incentives for home improvements have been overlooked. There are some new tax incentives as well as some expansions given to the current tax credits for home improvements relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy additions like solar panels. Now I am NOT an accountant or tax professional. When it comes to your taxes, I recommend you seek the advice of an accredited tax professional. Hopefully the IRS will issue some firm guidelines on the details of these credits soon as there are bound to be a lot of questions regarding qualification.

Here are the new tax credits in a nutshell. There is a tax credit of up to $1,500 for installing qualifying windows, doors, water heaters, roofs, insulation, heating and cooling equipment (HVAC, qualifying wood and pellet stoves) to your home in 2009 and 2010. On the renewable energy side, the tax credit is 30% of the qualifying solar technology, geothermal and wind energy systems with no limit through 2016. So if you install some solar panels and a wind power generator, you will receive a 30% tax credit which lowers your tax bill dollar for dollar for the cost of the upgrade.

 

Notably the big increase is in the energy-efficiency tax credit, which went from 10% of the qualifying costs to 30% and the cap also goes up from $500 originally to $1,500 (that’s a total credit for all applicable improvements combined in 2009 and 2010). The credit also includes stoves that use renewable biomass fuel. Another big change with the 30% renewable energy credit is the removal of the cap on claims   for systems (except for fuel cells) installed after 2008.

Under the prior guidelines the cap was $2,000 for a solar system. Now you can take 30% of the qualifying cost instead.

If you live in an older home, these tax credits are targeted at you. Just replacing your older single pane windows with new dual pane, low e vinyl  replacements will have a significant impact on your utility bills. Not only will you save money, but living in your home will be more comfortable year round. Before making any decisions, I recommend you consult with your tax professional to maximize your tax benefits. Check out the web for more information about renewable energy sources and the differences between them.
Source: Wall Street Journal

First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

There has been a lot of talk (and confusion) about the economic stimulus bill and what it means to home buyers. Who qualifies? What year can I claim the credit? How much of a refund would I get back? What are the criteria to receive the credit? So I'm going to attempt to answer the most common questions about the bill. Keep in mind, I am NOT a tax professional or accountant and always recommend when it comes to your taxes to seek the advice of an accredited tax professional.

That being said, the bill states that first time home buyers can claim a tax credit worth $8,000 OR 10% of the home's value, whichever amount is less. So, if you bought a condominium for $65,000, your tax credit under the bill would be $6,500, not $8,000.

Qualifying

In order to qualify for the credit, the home purchase must be made between January 1st and November 30th of 2009 (so if you buy a home on December 1, 2009 you are not eligible). In addition, there are income restrictions as well. To qualify, a single person must make less than $75,000 a year. Married couples must make under $150,000 a year. However, higher income buyers may receive a partial credit. You must also live in the house purchased for at least three years or you will be required to pay back the credit. The property being purchased can not be owned by a close relative like a parent, grandparent or one of your children. The definition in bill for a first time home buyer is anyone that has not owned a home in the last three years.

Tax Filing

The credit can be claimed on your 2008 or 2009 income taxes. Now as I said you can claim the credit on your 2008 tax filing. If you have already filed them, you can file an amended return to claim the credit if you wish to do so. Based on the feeback we've been getting, the process takes about 12 weeks. Another great thing about the credit it that it is fully refundable, so even if your total tax bill (refund) is less than $8,000 (and you qualify for that amount of a credit), you would still receive the full $8,000 back plus the amount you had overpaid.

For example, John's taxes showed that he had paid $5,000 in taxes over the year. He filed his return and he actually only owed $3,000 in taxes. Normally he would have received a refund of $2,000. But under this bill, he would receive the full $10,000 instead! To claim the credit on your taxes is just a matter of filling out the form, without any additional paperwork involved.

This is a simplified breakdown of the economic stimulus bill. I highly recommend consulting a professional tax service regarding your taxes. You can download the tax form here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5405.pdf

Thank you for reading our real estate blog and feel free to contact us for all of your Las Vegas NV real estate needs.  

Source: CNNMoney.com

Community Spolight: Beacon Hill in Mountain's Edge

One of the most popular master planned communities in the Vegas valley is Mountain's Edge. Located just off of Blue Diamond road, the community features over a dozen different builders, several planned parks and a trail system. The majority of the neighborhoods feature single family homes. However, there is a townhome community by Engle Homes that is worth more than a casual glance.

Beacon Hill carries on the prestige of the same Bostonian neighborhood with a selection of upscale townhomes and resort style community amenities. Community residents have access to a two story clubhouse with billiards, big screen television and a fitness facility, plus a community pool and spa. Beacon Hill townhomes come with the standard luxury amenities you would expect and have up to three bedrooms and three and a half baths.

Right now Engle Homes is offering up to 10,000 towards closing costs (with use of their preferred lender). If you would like to tour the available townhomes, call me at 702-493-8033 or contact me via email.