Las Vegas Real Estate News

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Las Vegas is a recognized brand

It's no wonder that Las Vegas is such a recognized "brand." Tourism to the Las Vegas strip and other parts of the valley has steadily risen the last decade, no small part due to savvy marketing by the city's leaders. Whether its on the small screen or large one, Las Vegas is everywhere. Check out the latest Entertainment Weekly. You'll see ads for Vegas shows, paid for by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor's Authority.

The increasing popularity of Las Vegas nationally has helped draw in more than tourists' dollars. Filming of the movie '21' that is opening today was mostly done at the brand new Planet Hollywood resort and casino that opened last year. The list of movies that have been filmed in the Las Vegas area is larger than you think. Casino, America's Sweetheart (filmed at Lake Las Vegas) and of course the Ocean's series were all filmed in Vegas, plus dozens of others, all helping to reinforce the Las Vegas brand. It's this kind of constant media attention has kept Las Vegas a top vacation destination, keeping unemployment low and the construction industry booming. If you are thinking about moving to Las Vegas, I can help you find the perfect home for you. Feel free to navigate around the site, there is information on every major community (and dozens of small ones) along with detailed descriptions, photos and floor plans when available. If you have any questions, or want to get started on your home search right away, you can reach me at 702-493-8033.

Funny Vegas Budlight Commercial

Okay so it's not real estate related, but it's pretty funny. I love his reaction to the view of the strip at night.

International investment up among high rise properties

While the decline of the dollar hasn't been good for the US, our neighbors to the north and across the oceans have been quick to take advantage of it. The increased value of the Euro and Loonie over the last few years has spurred foreign investment in the high rise and housing market. Combined with a surplus of inventory, investors are scooping up luxury properties at bargain prices. Currently there are several completed high rise condos ready for move in, both on and off the strip.

Strip Area:

South Strip:

Foreign investment in strip properties has been increasing as well. Israeli owned Elad Properties is in a joint venture to redevelop the site of the former New Frontier into a multi-billion dollar hotel casino resort with seven high rise towers. MGM CityCenter is in a partnership with a Dubai real estate development company.

As the dollar continues to decline, it's a safe bet that the level of foreign investment in the Las Vegas area will only increase and property prices will start to go up.

Related:

The Canadians are coming

Real estate shenanigans land couple in hot water

eve mazzarellaLast week the FBI started a mortgage fraud task force to deal with the high number of foreclosures in Southern Nevada. The task force is comprised of local and federal authorities, including the IRS, FBI, Metro, HUD and the Nevada AG's office. The same day they announced their first case against the owners of Distinctive Real Estate & Investments, Eve Mazzarrella and her husband Steven Grimm. The company website, lasvegascondomania.com is still up and running, although no one answers the phone and all of the photos of Eve and the company name have been removed. According to authorities, the couple was allegedly involved in a scheme of inflated housing values, straw buyers and limited liability companies. Investigators have seized hundreds of boxes of documents and some computers from two offices and two homes connected to the couple (prosecutors received help from a former employee of the couple, Cathy Rojas).

A release from the US Attorney for Nevada, stated the plan involved 227 properties with a purchase price totaling 100 million dollars. Of those 227 properties, at least 118 of the properties have been sold in foreclosure. The banks that owned the properties lost an estimated 15 million dollars. The quote below came from Eve's bio on the company website.

quote from website

Both individuals have been arrested and charged with six counts of bank fraud and one count of money laundering, plus aiding and abetting. If convicted, they could face up to decades years in prison. The couple is being represented by attorney John Spilotro. The trial date is set for May 19th.

Follow the Money

In an interesting twist, government prosecutors say the couple funneled $8.7 million dollars through a series of different bank accounts but only $5,000 of it has been found. The alleged scheme involved a $100 million in loans.

The Human Cost

The couple (allegedly) conned unsuspecting buyers into using their good credit to perpetuate the scam. The homebuyers are now facing foreclosure, their credit ruined and some have lost everything. One man claims to have lost $125,000 to the couple. Now as taxpayers, we will end up footing the bill eventually.

The Sting

A typical scam to defraud the bank usually involves an over inflated sales price with a large kickback through the title company going to an LLC, unbeknownst to the lender. While prosecutors haven't released the specifics of the fraud involved, it's a pretty safe bet that's what happened. No word yet on more arrests, although with a scam of this size and depth there had to be several others involved like appraisers or home inspectors.

Foreclosure Scammers

This wasn't the first scam uncovered this year. Often criminals target the desperate. In January of this year, Metro investigators arrested Sheila Williams, a local escrow officer after she pocketed over $500,000 from a local valley lender. Earlier in the same month, Matt Marlon was arrested for scamming homeowners facing foreclosure. Marlon would approach homeowners, offer to buy the homes and make the payments. He of course didn't buy the home or make any payments. Instead, Marlon would then rent out the homes to unsuspecting renters. Marlon has "helped" at least 60 home owners in the valley under a variety of aliases. Marlon created approximately 45 corporations to "buy" homes. In a strange twist, Marlon was also CEO of the SEO firm Traffic Power.

If you have had any business dealings with the above individuals, you can contact the Southern Nevada Mortgage Fraud Task Force at (702) 584-5555. There is also a Nevada site to help homeowners facing foreclosure at foreclosurehelp.nv.gov.

Sources: FBI News Release 3/13, KLAS Channel 8 I-Team Reports

Related:

Las Vegas Foreclosures

Bankrupt lenders

Bankrupt lenders trash confidentiality

Think your personal information is safe? So did these people when they applied for a loan.

Another black eye for the mortgage industry

This is a prime example of the additional fallout from the subprime mortgage collaspe. Several lenders here in Las Vegas have gone belly up. By law, these companies are required to properly dispose of any private documents they had in their possession.

What you can do

There are several things you can do to protect your confidential information. Making sure that you shred any personal information at home before throwing it away is a must. You may also want to invest in a safety deposit box for your confidential documents. If you suspect that your information may have been lost or stolen, there are some things you should do. First off, if you suspect that your information may have been compromised pull your credit report and ask the reporting bureaus to notify you of suspicious activity and most importantly, document your actions. Having documentation may be extremely helpful to you later on. The government has established a task force to fight identity theft. You can download a free guide to avoiding identity theft and fighting back on the FTC's website here.

Pinnacle calls it quits

In a not so surprising move, Pinnacle calls it quits. The project had been floundering for some time, despite their claims otherwise. Requirements for pre-construction sales are being blamed for the cancellation. The land was cleared last year (former Falconi honda dealership site, Falconi is also a principal in the project) in preparation for construction that never started. The developer has stated that deposits will be repaid to purchasers plus interest, but nothing has happened yet. Last month Pinnacle was sued by a group of buyers wanting their deposits back.

Sadly this project offered some unique features not available in other communities. I think it can chalked up to bad timing and the change in the market. The good news for the buyers that did put in a deposit, there are plenty of other high rise condos in Las Vegas up for sale. Several projects will be completing their initial phases in the next two to three months. Here is the short list:

If you would like to include resales in your search, then there are several more high rises to choose from:

Call me at 702-493-8033 and I'll give you the rundown on each project, availability and my personal picks.

Altessa gets a sugar daddy

A luxury condominium community in Summerlin seemed like a no brainer a few years ago. Real estate was booming in the valley, prices were going up and supply was low. Like all things, that came to end as the market slowed, prices leveled out, then started to drop. Pacific Contractors, owned by Steve Molasky, ran into some trouble (foreclosure) like some other developers around town and Altessa was suspended. Despite the notice I've posted on the Altessa page, people are still interested in the project. So there is some potentially good news for people interested in living in Altessa.

Irwin Molasky, (Steve's dad) developer of Park Towers, has stepped in and offered to buy the project and pay off the existing contractor liens. Pacific contractor license has been suspended, and the contractor's board is reticent about reinstating the license, even with the financial support provided by his father. A foreclosure auction is scheduled for March 12, and the newly formed Asset L.A. by Mr. Molasky has already been in negotiations with the note holder. The contractor's board will meet again on March 26th. Provided the acquisition goes smoothly and the liens are paid, I would expect to see Altessa units back on the market within the next couple of months.

Another historic property being renovated

I had reported on our other blog about the Sahara being bought, so it was only a matter of time before the news would come out that it was being torn down. The Sahara was featured in the original Ocean's 11, starring Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. County approval was granted. The mid-rise tower will be completed demolished and the two high rise towers remodeled. The property will remain open during all of the construction (I'm guessing no implosion) and construction should be complete by 2011, helping to fuel the booming construction industry for another 3 years. The renovation will add another several hundred rooms to the property.

Related:

Why history has no place on the strip

Home sales plummet in 2007

home sales 2007

Overall, 2007 had the lowest home sales in Las Vegas since 1997. According to the RJ, a total of 43,255 homes were sold last year. At the end of the year, the median new home price dropped 20.1% to $273,359 from December of 2006, according to SalesTraq. Existing home median prices fell as well to $253,000 a 11.2% drop.

Will prices continue to drop? In some areas, prices haven't dipped that much at all over the course of last year. Location and amenities had a lot to do with homes retaining their value, although new communities are still seeing some increased incentives to buy----some with pricing reductions, others will free extras.

Henderson gets its first green community

The city of Henderson is getting the first green, solar powered community in Nevada. The community of Sommerset features the latest solar technology and green construction techniques. This exclusive community of only 48 homes has three beautiful floor plans of one and two story homes. Homes size range from three to five bedrooms, starting at 1,626 square feet. Floorplans options include patios, den, teen retreats, game lofts and additional bedrooms. The homes include new GE technology in the SmartCommand Dashboard. The Dashboard will tell home owners about their water and power consumption, historical data and power production from the rooftop solar panels.

Homes are priced in the $300,000s, so they will not last. Call 702-493-8033 for the latest pricing and information.