Saturday, November 8, 2008

Canadian Financing for Las Vegas Condos!

We have discovered a great lender for Canadians wanting to buy Las Vegas homes, either as a second home or as an investment! This lender charges no loan discount points or origination fees, and the rates are the same as what a US citizen can obtain.

Lately all our blog posts have been about finding Las Vegas mortgages for our clients. With the high rate of national foreclosures, many traditional venues and programs have been discontinued, leaving buyers, even those with substantial down payments, in limbo. It has truly been a challenge for us to find mortgage lenders with reasonable down payment and rate structures.

In our never ending quest for foreign national financing for Las Vegas real estate purchases, we have literally stumbled across a lender who is able to loan money at competitive rates to Canadian citizens. This lender is able to use Canadian credit scores and income to provide mortgage loans for the thousands who are trying to flee a harsh winter climate for a few months each year.

General program guidelines for this lender are as follows:

The program is available for both second homes and Las Vegas investment properties. The minimum down payment is 20%, although the best financing on investment properties would be with a 25% down payment.The programs that are offered are full qualifying loans. Available are the 3/1, 5/1, 7/1, and 10/1 Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Each is a 30 year loan with a 30 year amortization locking in the loan rate for the short term of the loan. For example, if you got a 3/1 ARM, your start rate would be locked in for three years. (Rates are typically lower for shorter loan locks.)

The typical documentation list is as follows. Based on your own individual circumstances, more documentation may be required:

2 years personal tax returns including all pages and schedules
2 years T4s2 years corporate tax returns including all pages and schedules (if self employed)Most recent 2 months bank statements reflecting name, account number, and 2 month transaction history
Most recent 1 month retirement/investment account statement reflecting name, account number, and current balance.
Mortgage statement on any property owned in borrowers personal name reflecting name, property address, current balance, current interest rate, and current payment.
Line of credit statement on any property owned in the borrowers personal name reflecting: name, property address, current balance, current interest rate, current payment, and available balance.
Lease agreement for any rental properties.Clear copy of passport to include the signature page and picture page.

Two unique benefits of this lender are their rate renegotiation prior to closing and their loan modification process.The rate renegotiation is available to a client in the event that they lock their rate in but before closing rates drop. The borrower has the ability to renegotiate the rate to that day’s pricing with a modest premium paid.The loan modification process would come in to play should rates drop after the borrower has closed the loan.

There is a one time modification available to the borrower. It allows them to simply lower the rate with no documentation, appraisals or closing fees that a refinance would incur. It is one page that the client signs and it gets recorded behind the deed of trust. Again, a modest fee is paid for this privilege should the borrower elect to take advantage of it.Like all loan programs, there is no guarantee on how long this one will last.

So if you are a Canadian citizen who has been thinking about purchasing property in the States, call us right away so we can put you in touch with this lender. 702-985-7654 Once your financing is in place, we can find you a phenomenal STEAL on Las Vegas foreclosures! There are some incredible deals to be had in the Las Vegas high rise condo market.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Las Vegas Condos and Condo Hotels – Where are the Deals?

Like the rest of the housing market nationwide, Las Vegas high rise condos and condo hotels have taken a “hit” in value the past couple of years. But while residential high rise condos are still moving along, albeit at reduced prices, condo hotels owners are faced with a serious dilemma.

Back in 2004 and 2005 every major lender had financing in place for condo hotel purchasers, requiring anywhere from 20% to 30% down payments. Since most developers got at least a 20% deposit on their contracts for projects under construction, borrowers thought they had all the cash they would need when the time came to close three of four years down the road.

But with the current economic conditions and tightened mortgage lending guidelines, currently there are NO lenders willing to finance condo hotels, even with a 50% or 60% down payment, verifiable income and perfect credit.

In Las Vegas, Palms Place and Trump Tower, both condo hotel projects that completed construction in 2008, the developers have not been able to close escrow on many of their units that were under contract. Would be buyers are trying to find partners with cash, someone to take over their contract, or simply walking away from their investments. Many buyers are being forced to give up over $150k in deposit money and would be delighted to get back even a fraction of that amount.

While the situation is dire for these buyers caught up in the mortgage meltdown, this is the perfect opportunity for anyone with cold hard cash to pick up prime Las Vegas real estate for less than 2004 prices! Owners at Palms Place (those who closed before the condo hotel loan programs were discontinued) report being VERY happy with the income generated on their units from the rental program. Palms Place, adjacent to the Palms Hotel, is a very “happening” resort destination. The Playboy Club, fashionable restaurants, entertainment venues and MMA sporting events keep the resort full and it has a very low vacancy rate.

Even at the MGM Residences, most of which closed before lending was shut down, there are numerous re-sales and foreclosures available at incredible prices. Since they can only sell to cash buyers, there are definitely steals to be found.

What of the MGM City Center and the Cosmopolitan, two condo hotel projects that are due to come online in late 2009 and early 2010? The Cosmopolitan, with what is unarguably the best location on Las Vegas Boulevard, was recently taken over by Deutsche Bank. And MGM City Center next door is owned in large part by Dubai World. Both these entities have “deep pockets” and their locations are superior. Word on the streets is that by the time these units are ready to close, the developers will have their own in-house financing in place. Also by that time the economy is expected to recover substantially.

But in the meantime, those with cash and aspirations to own a piece of Las Vegas are taking advantage of the times. Many are negotiating with the buyers under contract who cannot close to take over their contracts for a fraction of the original deposit. Assignments on these contracts are subject to the developer’s approval, but cash buyers are almost always approved.

Since these buyers have not yet closed, these properties are NOT in the Las Vegas MLS system. High rise agents around the city do have lists of potential assignments as well as foreclosures in the projects mentioned above. Eventually the condo hotel market will rebound, and those that are buying now, at the bottom, will make out well. To find out about some of these great Las Vegas condos, please call us at 702-985-7654 and we will put you in touch with a high rise specialist.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Financing Foreign Investors for Las Vegas Mortgages

With the dollar expected to rise against foreign currencies later this year (that trend has already started), foreign investors are hurrying to purchase real estate in the US while their dollar goes further. Most of these investors are targeting the Las Vegas real estate market in particular, where the sharp decline in prices (due to the high amount of Las Vegas foreclosures) and the world class amenities have made it an attractive get-away destination. In particular, Canadian buyers are looking to Las Vegas homes as a vacation retreat from their harsh winter climate.

Most banks will not loan on real estate outside of their own country. With all the recent shifts in the credit markets, the qualifying criteria has changed for mortgage loans in the United States across the board, including those to foreign purchasers. Prior to this year, a foreign national could obtain financing from US banks as long as they had 35% to put down with no or limited documentation. Now US mortgage lenders are requiring full documentation of income and assets on all mortgage loans without exception, though the down payment requirements have dropped.

A citizen of a country other than the US can obtain a loan for property in the US based on what classification they fall under. A permanent resident alien is a foreign national who has been granted the right to work in the US permanently and who has been given a US social security number. A permanent resident alien can purchase property under the same guidelines as a US citizen. They can get a loan with as little as 5% down payment for a primary residence, either on a fixed rate or adjustable rate mortgage at the current interest rates available to US citizens.

All other foreign nationals, including those with temporary work visas, are required to put down a minimum of 25% for properties under $650,000 or 35% for properties over $650,000, whether the property is a primary residence or a rental property. Lenders will also require the equivalent of a US TRW rating as well as full documentation of their employment income and assets. In addition, the down payment money must be “seasoned” in a US bank for at least 60 days prior to the close of escrow.

These loans to foreign nationals are only currently available as adjustable rate mortgages or ARMS. The fixed rate terms can be for 3, 5, 7 or 10 years and interest rates are currently running between 7.5% and 8.5% with approximately 5 loan discount points prepaid for the amount of the loan (points can vary on a day to day basis just like interest rates). Each point is the equivalent of 1% of the loan amount, so on a $100,000 loan 5 points would be $5,000.

Another alternative is for the foreign national to obtain an equity credit line on their property in their home country and come to the US with cash in hand. Cash offers are very strong, and enable the buyer’s agent to negotiate the best possible price on behalf of their client.

For more information on getting qualified for a Las Vegas mortgage and to receive the latest listings on great deals in Las Vegas new homes, high rise condos or MLS listings, please contact our office at 702-985-7654 or email us at

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Las Vegas Home Inspections

I really must begin by thanking Diann Tonnesen for offering to allow me to blog on her site. In case you’re not aware Diann is somewhat of an icon in the Las Vegas real estate community. To be offered to provide input for her web site is truly an honor. Thank you, Diann.

Diann told me that I could write about anything I wanted to write so I chose something that has been needling me for quite some time now; the way people shop for a Las Vegas home inspector. Do you realize how most people shop for a home inspector? They gain a list of inspectors, usually from their real estate agent, and call three or four inspectors asking what they charge for the inspection. They generally do this without knowing what they are buying. Especially with all the Las Vegas foreclosures on the market being sold "as is, where is" this truly boggles the mind.

Can you imagine people shopping for a car they same way they shop for a home inspector? It would look something like this:

Ring, ring. “Hello, Lamborghini, Mazarati, Rolls Royce, Bentley dealership, can I help you?”

“Yeah, hi. You guys sell cars, right?”

“Yes ma’am, we do.”

“What do you charge for them?”

“Excuse me?“

"Yeah, you know, how much do they cost?”

“Well are you aware of what kind of cars we sell?”

“Naw, I’m really not interested in hearing about that, I’m just calling around getting prices.”

“Well we have a beautifully reconditioned Bentley on sale this week that is valued at $35,000 that we are selling as a lost leader for $22,000."

“That’s great. Twenty-two thousand hunh? Okay, I may call you back. Thanks for your time.”

Ring, ring.

“Yeah, Arties Autos. What do you want?”

“Yeah, hi. You guys sell cars, right?”

“Why sure we do. What cha lookin for toots?”

“How much do you charge?”

“Well I can put you in this sweet little Yugo that was towed in, I mean, that came in last night for say… $15,000.”

“Fifteen thousand hunh? Okay. Sweet. I’ll take it.”

Sound absurd? Well sure it does. But many, many people who are about to make what is often the single largest purchase they’ll make in their entire life shop for their home inspector and their Las Vegas mortgage loans the same exact way.

So here is where I am coming from: I retired from the Navy in 1998 after spending nearly my entire adult life as an engineering inspector. I wasn’t just an “engineering inspector, I was an engineering inspector and instructor where I was one of eight members of an elite team that earned the distinction as the most successful engineering inspection team in the history of the United States Navy. The distinction still stands today where our success record has never been matched.

When I retired from the Navy I transitioned into the civilian world as a Las Vegas real estate agent. After several years as a modestly successful real estate agent I became very frustrated with the quality and depth of home inspections available for my clients. There simply weren’t any good inspections available. The inspectors were more interested in protecting their own liability through the use of complicated and legalistic inspection agreements than they were in protecting my clients. I couldn’t even find an inspector who would walk on a concrete tile roof. They mostly used binoculars to review the roofing.

I thought the public deserved better. I thought people wouldn’t mind paying a little more for a true quality inspection where the inspector spent hours really investigating the home rather than hiring an inspector that spent several minutes walking through the home filling out a worthless checklist that contained no actual useful information. I set out to create such a service.

Now, after nearly eleven years performing thousands of home inspections, continually refining our procedures, attending thousands of hours of training, holding hundreds of training seminars, and developing an organization that is truly unique and first class I can truly state that there is no better inspection service available in the entire Las Vegas Valley, regardless of the price. It is not an opinion; it is a fact. We have inspecting Las Vegas homes down to an art. We don’t do cheap inspections, and our service is nothing like the inspections that the cheap guys perform.

Nowadays, the most common comment I hear is that we don’t charge enough for our inspections (compared to what we provide). I once had a home buyer say that he didn’t think we charged half of what we should charge for our service. I promptly quipped, “That’s not a problem. You’re more than welcome to pay double.” To my astonishment he did exactly that.

It is a statistical fact that the average home inspector ends up in litigation an average of three times each year because of issues the inspector did not discover and disclose in the course of his inspection. In eleven years that my company has been in existence neither I nor any of the inspectors who work for me has ever been named in any litigation in conjunction with a home we inspected. We have never gone to arbitration; we have never gone to mediation; and we were recently named on the Honor Roll for the Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada, once again, for maintaining a complaint-free status.

For the consumer who swallows the paradigm that all home inspections are pretty much the same and selects their home inspector based solely upon the price of the inspection, they often get exactly what they are looking for: a cheap inspection. But for the consumer who shops for their home inspector based upon the quality of the service provided and who is able to discount the paradigm that all home inspections are the same: these are people who draw outside the lines and when they stumble across our firm we reward them with a Picasso every time.

I can only hope that when it is time for you to get a home inspection you are able to discern the difference between “Art” and “Artie.” Have a great day!

Paul J. Donohue, RHI, RREI, CREI
President / Senior InspectorSpectrum Inspection Group Inc.
8345 Coyado StreetLas Vegas, NV 89123
Scheduling: (702) 269-6716

Sunday, September 7, 2008

In Las Vegas the Cosmopolitan Resort Keeps on Trucking!

To the right, the Las Vegas Cosmopolitan Condos and the
Bellagio Hotel and Casino, to the left the
MGM CityCenter project.
Phot0 taken September 5th, 2008.

Many proposed high rise condo projects around the country have had the plug pulled in the past two years due to cost overruns and tightening credit. Since Deutsche Bank announced they were beginning foreclosure proceedings on the Las Vegas Cosmopolitan condo hotel project at the beginning of 2008 on their $760 million dollar loan, over 1800 contract owners have been holding their breath, wondering if the development would be completed. Or if they would get their money back in full if the development was canceled.

There were many "interested parties" making bids to purchase the project, but as of this week Deutsche Bank has taken over full ownership of the Cosmopolitan under an affiliate, Nevada Property I. Deutsche Bank was the high bidder, paying $1 billion at a recent foreclosure sale to acquire ownership of the project.

And Deutsche Bank isn't letting any grass grow under its feet to make sure the project goes forward. It has already inked contracts with Related Companies to take over as the resort's new developer. In addition Perini Corp. signed a new contract to complete construction work on the project. Perini has been working on the project from the beginning, and was being paid under an interim agreement since March when Deutsche Bank began foreclosing after the original developer, Bruce Eichner, failed to complete a deal to secure more financing. Increased construction costs helped drive the Cosmopolitan's construction budget from its original $2 billion price in early 2006 to its current $3.9 billion price, and Eichner was unable to find a new partner with enough capital to infuse into the project.

A letter has already been drafted to contract owners by the resort's new developer, Related Companies, letting them know of the management changes and informing them of progress to date. This letter will go out on Monday to almost 1825 contract holders, assuring them of the project's completion. To date over 50% of the Cosmopolitan's exterior construction has been completed, and it is anticipated that by December of 2008 owners will be celebrating the "topping off" of both towers, including the penthouse units. The new proposed completion date for the entire project is estimated for the second quarter of 2010.

Along with a rebounding resale housing market, this is great news for the local Las Vegas real estate market. For four months straight statistics have shown a significant rise in Las Vegas homes sales, with multiple offers on lower end properties, especially Las Vegas foreclosures. The buyers are back!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Las Vegas Condos - High Rise Sales Slowing?

In early 2005 Las Vegas real estate agents couldn't answer the phones fast enough. The push toward towering condominium skyscrapers quickly became one of the hottest real estate trends in Las Vegas, with the hottest celebrity names including Pamela Anderson, Ivana Trump, Michael Jordan and George Clooney jumping into the market to invest in, build or brand major projects. Bruce Eichener's Cosmopolitan project logged an unprecedented 900 sales in the first 24 hours of opening. Buyers were clamoring to purchase multiple units and were angry when they were restricted to purchasing just two in many of the high profile developments.

The latest statistics from the Las Vegas MLS and new homes research company SalesTraq show about 820 resale units in the high rise condominium projects on the local market the first week in May. There were 20 closings on high rise condos in the month between March and April. At that rate, it will take approximately 3 1/2 years to sell off all the high rise units currently on the market. When you compare that to the 13 months of supply of preowned Las Vegas homes for sale or the two-month inventory of single family Las Vegas new homes and townhome units under construction in the Valley, the outlook for the high rise market could seem bleak.

"People who bought units on contract in 2005 are aware the market in 2008 is nothing like the market they bought in," said Larry Murphy of Salestraq. "But appraisals are coming in at whatever they agreed to pay on their contract three years ago. People are saying, 'We don't think that appraisal is right, and we don't want to close at that price.' A lot of people have been unwilling or unable to come to the closing table." Some are walking away entirely from over $100,000 in deposits, while others are closing and trying to "flip" their units.

The new mortgage lending restrictions haven't helped matters either. Even buyers with excellent credit, cash in the bank and 20 percent deposits already in escrow aren't having much luck negotiating normal market rates on regular residential high rises unless they are owner occupants. Condo hotel buyers are being hit with a minimum of 25% down payments and high interest rates, while foreign investors are looking at 35% down payments. These restrictions have served to shrink the available pool of high rise buyers. Combined with the glut of current inventory, even prospective buyers with cash in hand are apprehensive about jumping into the Las Vegas high rise condo market.

But multi billion dollar developers are still predicting that high rise condos will be the new suburbia once the credit crunch eases and the housing market starts rebounding. Units at projects such as CityCenter could close for $1,600 to $3,000 per square foot starting next year, when owners begin moving in. Currently prices at Sky Las Vegas, the only completed residential high-rise on the actual Las Vegas Strip, are ranging between $400 to $1,000 per square foot. Rising construction costs for steel, concrete, copper and even land mean bigger replacement values, and those construction costs will figure into future high rise prices.

And these developers are betting that their predictions come true - after multiple millions of dollars in marketing research, of course! MGM has already bought another 60 acres of land on the north end of the Strip for City Center II. Station Casinos has 60+ acres just off the Strip behind the Panorama for three more major casinos plus assorted high rise towers. And M is in the works on the south end of Las Vegas near Southern Highlands. They believe that rising oil prices and changing lifestyle patterns will make suburban living obsolete and that the convenience and amenities of high rise living in multiuse projects will appeal to both the retiring baby boom generation and the digital youth population which is just starting to make its presence felt in the marketplace.

So while the Las Vegas high rise market may be weak at the moment, don't count it out in the long haul - the big money is betting on it. And now, while there are Las Vegas foreclosures in the best buyer's market we have ever had, may just be the time to pick up something to hold for the next five years while anticipated high rise prices climb to New York levels.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Short Sales and Las Vegas High Rise Condos

Of all the types of distressed properties, shortsales are probably the hardest to close escrow on. Often the seller is still living in the property. He or she may have invested their life savings making a down payment that has disappeared with a declining market. They are upset that they are losing their home and fearful, as they will probably have little or no money to make a move with. Plus their credit is shot and there are few landlords that will even consider renting to them without a substantial deposit. Of course, if they had a substantial deposit, they could afford to make their monthly payment!

And even if the seller is cooperative, there is still the bank to contend with. In a market that is inundated with requests for short sale approval and where there is a large inventory of properties that have gone all the way through the foreclosure process, the bank's loss mitigation departments are backed up and understaffed. And often there is more than one bank to seek short sale approval from. (During the recent subprime lending years, buyers who had no down payments were able to borrow 100% of the purchase price on their home. Usually this was accomplished by putting both first and second Las Vegas mortgages on the property.) Very likely the second mortgage holder is going to be wiped out and has very little incentive to approve the sale.

Currently there are just over 5000 homes and condos for sale in Las Vegas that are in short sale status, and of those almost 4,000 are priced under $300,000. (By comparison, there are just over 2,000 Las Vegas foreclosures or REOs, bank owned properties.) It is taking anywhere from 30 to 60 days to get an approval from the bank on a short sale. And the listing agent must jump through hoops getting the proper documentation together so that the lender will consider an offer in the first place. A typical Las Vegas short sale package would include:

Seller’s Hardship Letter
Offer and Counter Offer on Subject Property
Estimated Net Sheet
Buyer’s Approval Letter
Seller’s Last Two Pay Check Stubs
Statement of Seller’s Monthly Expenses
Seller's Last Two Bank Statements
Seller's Most Recent Tax Return
Copy of MLS Listing
Listing History of Subject Property
County Tax Record for Subject Property
Recent Comparable Sales for Subject Property

The seller must be able to prove that they have insufficient income to pay the monthly payment and that they have no other assets. The seller must also be able to prove a true hardship like a lost job, interest rate adjustment or divorce. Just because the market has gone south and the seller wants to move doesn't constitute a short sale unless one of the previous reasons apply.

The listing agent must be able to show a concerted effort to market the home for the best possible price. And once the offer is approved, if the listing agent forgets to put an expense on the estimated net sheet, the bank will refuse to pay it as they feel they based their decision on flawed information. Oftentimes it is difficult for the listing agent to accurately assess the costs as they may include sewer bills, unpaid HOA assessments or unrecorded mechanics liens.

And once the bank does finally approve the short sale, if another higher and better offer is received, the bank can choose to un-approve the first offer. They are not the owner of record for the property and no negotiated approval is binding on them in a short sale.

So if you are thinking of purchasing a short sale property, you need to have lots of patience, a great Las Vegas real estate agent and a bit of luck!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Differences Between Short Sales and Bank REOs or Repos

As you know, it is a great time to be a "buyer" in our Las Vegas real estate market. Pricing on homes is almost back to the 2005 level, with many of them reduced to be "moved" by the banks. REOs and short sales currently make up almost 40% of the Las Vegas homes for sale.

Bank repos, also known as REOs (real estate owned), are properties that have already been foreclosed upon by the bank. They may be in pretty rough condition, and it is very common for the landscaping to be completely dead and have to be replaced. They are sold "as is, where is" with no warranties. But in some cases you can make your offer contingent upon an inspection to see if any major repair work may be required. (Some banks won't allow the due diligence period for an inspection, so you may have to have one done prior to making an offer.)

Having said all that, you can get a "good deal" with a bank owned property as long as you allow for these extra costs and buy the home for the right price to begin with. Just because it is a foreclosure, it may or may not be a great deal.

Short sales are a different creature. The homeowner is behind on their payments, and, in most cases, is hoping that the lender(s) involved will let them sell "short" of what is owed. This means the bank(s) has to approve the sale. Again, in some cases, the house will be listed at an extremely low price designed to entice offers. These offers are brought to the lender (s) for approval and if there is more than one offer, the bank(s) will negotiate the prices up, if possible, to reduce their losses. Some banks may take 30-45 days to even respond to an offer, perhaps hoping to get more than one. And the bank usually does not sign off on the offer until just prior to closing, which means they may also accept a new offer up to that point. So even though you have verbal acceptance, until it is actually signed, a short sale can be revoked at any time.

Don't overlook regular owner occupied "turn-key" homes in this market either. Lately, most homes are priced to compete with the foreclosures: they come with home warranties and they don't need out-of-pocket cash dropped into them like most of the Las Vegas foreclosures do.

If you think you are interested in a foreclosure or short sale, send us the general parameters of what you are looking for: price range, number of bedrooms, pool, location etc. We will be happy to place you on our automatic email update system that will immediately send you any new listing that comes on the market with your foreclosure criteria. (The best ones go fast, so be prepared to act quickly!) Or call us at 702-985-7654 to discuss doing a customized search for you. See more at the Las Vegas Real Estate Agent blog site.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Amazing Deals on Units Available Pre Closing at the Palms

Even at the Palms Place, where most buyers were the young and the wealthy with cash to burn, there were some buyers that knew a good investment when they saw it. They took the plunge and plunked down a 20% deposit on one of the elegant Palms Place condo hotel units hoping to make a bundle by the time the property was built.

Unfortunately in the meantime the national economy stalled and the Las Vegas real estate market dropped. Now, almost four years later, many of these same buyers are unable to obtain financing in the aftermath of the subprime market debacle. They are desperate to find a buyer just to recoup part of their deposit.

The units below are all available on the pre closing market. The original purchasers of these units want to assign thier contracts prior to closing with the Palms, and these prices are far lower than the units that have closed and are already listed for resale! Check out the one bedroom unit for only $700k! Now THAT is MOTIVATED!!

1 Bed

1 Bed

1 Bed





1 Bedroom - Strip View - $700,000 - Deal of the Day!

* All units are fully furnished
* Closing March 2008
* Studio (approx) 620 Sq. ft.
* 1 Bedroom (approx) 1,220 Sq. ft.
**Please note, the units are all on the upper level floors. Residential units start on the 8th floor. Floors 13, 14 and all of the 40's have been skipped due to superstition.

If you would like to find out the details on the assignments, please give me a call at 702-985-7654 right away!

If you can't quite afford the Palms Place but really want to buy Las Vegas high rise condos, there are also some GREAT deals to be had in the Residences at MGM starting in the high $300s.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Las Vegas Foreclosures and Auctions – Free Seminars on Buying a Dream Home, Not a Nightmare!

Everyone in the housing market these days is looking for a “steal.” But around the country purchasers are finding that buying a property through foreclosure or at auction is not an easy process. There is no standardized format for purchasing, and banks and auction houses are selling these properties “as is, where is.” So “buyer beware” is certainly applicable.

Currently the number of Las Vegas foreclosures is among the highest in the nation, and foreclosed inventory on the market has driven down prices in the Valley substantially from the all time highs of 2005. Investors are returning to the city to pick up great deals and benefit from the strong local rental market, while first time buyers are taking advantage of affordable housing. Lower priced Las Vegas homes under $250k are even receiving multiple offers, lending strength to the belief that the Las Vegas price decline may have bottomed out.

For those desiring to take advantage of the lowest prices in the past three years, but leery of buying a “lemon,” a series of FREE 45 minute seminars on foreclosures and Las Vegas auctions is being sponsored by the Tonnesen Team of Prudential Americana Group Realtors. Speakers will be acknowledged specialists in the foreclosure and auction process. Participants will receive printed information on the “how to’s” of purchasing along with detailed property listings, and there will be an open question and answer period. Each foreclosure seminar will cover a different area of the Las Vegas Valley, and each auction seminar will cover a specific upcoming auction event.

The next free auction seminar covering the details on the upcoming Hudson and Marshall Auction will be held on Tuesday April 1st at 6pm at 871 Coronado Center Drive, Suite 100, Henderson, NV. This auction will cover 100’s of properties around Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas, with starting bids beginning in the $50k range but also covering high end luxury properties as well. (Exact dates and place for the auction are yet to be announced, but it will take place sometime in mid April.) This seminar will include: getting pre-registered to bid at the auction, a catalogue of the properties to be auctioned, how to do your due diligence prior to the auction, how the auction process works, what to take with you to the auction, and a preferred lender on hand to pre-qualify you to bid.

The next free foreclosure seminar will be held on Sunday April 13th at 2pm at 871 Coronado Center Drive, Suite 100, Henderson, NV. Foreclosures in the areas of Anthem, Seven Hills, Green Valley and Lake Las Vegas will be covered. Included at the seminar will be our “Top Foreclosure Picks” followed by an optional private tour of properties. This seminar will include information on: the differences between foreclosures and shortsales and how it affects you as a buyer, what to expect when bidding on a foreclosure – what the bank will and will not do, doing due diligence on foreclosure properties, a complete list of foreclosed properties in the day’s featured area, agents on hand to do a custom search of foreclosure properties that meet your budget and a preferred lender on hand to pre-qualify you to put an offer in on a foreclosure (required on all bank owned properties)

Call 702-958-7654 to register now, or register online at: to participate in upcoming seminars.

In addition, every client who purchases a foreclosure or auction property from the Tonnesen Team will receive discount coupons for their home inspection plus the preferred lender will contribute a new washer and dryer!**

**Purchaser must use the preferred lender for their mortgage and close escrow to receive a free washer and dryer.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bits and Pieces of the Latest Las Vegas Real Estate News

Today's blog is bits and pieces of things that are currently going on in the Las Vegas real estate market.

Clark County commissioners have given final approval to plans for the $6 billion Las Vegas Plaza Hotel and Casino Resort (modeled after The Plaza Hotel in New York) to be built on the site of the former Frontier Hotel and Casino. Despite earlier rumors that the project was stalling due to a shaky credit market, Elad chief Miki Naftali said the project was “forging ahead as planned.” Elad also owns The Plaza in New York and a Las Vegas spokesman for the group says groundbreaking could take place later this year on the 3,500-room Las Vegas Strip project which is slated to open in 2011.

Deutsche Bank announced that it was going to be commencing foreclosure proceedings on the Cosmopolitan Resort Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. According to Deutsche Bank, they have made arrangements with the contractor to continue with construction. And sales are still being made out of the sales center in anticipation that developer Bruce Eichner will either find additional financing or will be bought out of the project. The Las Vegas luxury condos are already more than 80% sold out and the Cosmopolitan's location is the best on the Strip, making it desirable to potential purchasers or partners, and Eichner expects to reach an agreement before long.

Two major Las Vegas residential projects, Inspirada and Kyle Canyon Gateway, are having difficulties meeting their mortgage obligations. Inspirada, a 2,000-acre project, was supposed to give rise to as many as 13,500 homes. There have been about only about 162 homes sold so far, according to Focus Group, master developer. And some of the smaller partners that are joint venturing in the project are unable to meet their commitments, leaving the larger partners to either take on their portion of the debt and put more money in, or decide to walk away entirely. With existing Las Vegas new homes builders getting low on inventory, putting these two large projects on indefinite hold would certainly help stabilize prices.

The FBI is currently carrying out a number of investigations in the Las Vegas area, uncovering fraudulent schemes involving 14 financial institutions. Some of the schemes under scrutiny include artificially inflating home values and placing low income buyers and/or beginner investors into adjustable rate mortgages that they can't afford when the rates reset and forcing them into foreclosure.

Currently Las Vegas foreclosures are among the highest in the nation and foreclosed inventory on the market has driven down prices in the city substantially from all time highs in 2005. Investment buyers are returning to the city to pick up great buys and benefit from the strong local rental market, while first time buyers are taking advantage of affordable housing. Lower priced single family homes under $250k are even receiving multiple offers, lending strength to the belief that the price decline may have bottomed out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

To Lock or Not to Lock?

It's not bad enough that buyers are already leary of the the general Las Vegas real estate market. Borrowers also wonder if they should lock in interest rates on their new Las Vegas homes when they first apply for a loan, or should they wait and see where the market goes. My standard response is that my crystal ball is broken, and that if I really knew the answer, I would be playing the international money markets. I have literally heard every lender in town swear that rates were going down and all of a sudden they went up, and visa versa.

So either choice involves some risk. If you lock now and rates fall, you lose. If you don't lock now and rates rise, you also lose. It's all about how much risk you are willing to take and if you are going to be more unhappy if rates rise and you aren't locked, or if you will be more unhappy if rates fall and you are locked.

The first step is to understand how the rate locking process works. There are no industry standards to go by, a lock with one lender may be radically different from the lock in program with another.

Here are some items to verify: What is being locked in? An interest rate? Or an interest rate and points? Points are a form of interest, so if a rate is locked in but not points, then the effective rate for the loan can rise before closing if the interest level stays the same but the number of points increases.

How long is the lock in? A typical lock lasts 30 days, but longer terms may be available, even up to a year on new homes.

Is there an upfront cost to lock the rate? If you pay a fee for a lock and borrow at a different rate or from a different lender, then the prepaid fee will be lost. In some cases, lenders collect a lock in fee and then credit the money to the borrower at closing. In this situation, there is no additional cost to lock the rate if you go through with the loan.

One benefit to look for: is there a "float down" option? You would lock in a rate at the current market interest rate, but if rates fall prior to your closing you would have a one time chance to finance your purchase at a lower rate.

When you lock in a loan rate lenders have one of two choices: They can secure a loan commitment with an investor at the promised rate or they can play the market themselves and hope that by settlement they can get your rate or better.

But what happens if a lender plays the market and rates go up? The lender loses. The problem is that not all lenders play fair. It doesn't happen often, but some lenders will delay the loan application process past the lock period, thus ending their commitment to make the loan.

How can you avoid this problem? Consider Las Vegas mortgage lenders recommended by your broker. An experienced broker will know which lenders have a good record delivering on commitments.

In general, whether you lock in or not, it's best to be in continual contact with the lender. Make a point to promptly supply all required paperwork, and keep notes showing when you spoke with the loan officer and what was discussed. Get timed, dated and signed receipts for all paperwork you deliver.

So when should you lock in? There just isn't a single answer that works for every situation. You need to consider general interest trends and realize that no one can predict future rates.

For more information regarding lock in agreements for your purchase, just call us at 702-985-7654 and we can review the features that can best serve your interests.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Deadbeat Landlords Leave Tenants in Bad Situations

It is happening all over the country - unsuspecting tenants are returning home from work to find an eviction notice on the front door. The bank has aquired the property through foreclosure and the tenant has to get out of their current home within 30 days. The tenant almost never is able to recoup any of the rent money paid or get the security deposit back.

And in a market rife with vacant homes for sale, Las Vegas has more than its fair share of deadbeat landlords and unscrupulous property managers. Almost half of the 19,000 homes currently listed are Las Vegas foreclosures and many of them are Las Vegas new homes that were purchased by investors and have never been lived in.

One recent incident came to our attention:

A Las Vegas real estate agent who was renting a luxury 4500 square foot Las Vegas homes, came back to find the eviction notice on the front door. Immediately he called the property manager whose phone was all of a sudden disconnected. Doing some detective work he was able to track down the home's owner who lived in South America and contact him by phone. Turns out that the "property manager" was an unlicensed friend of the owner. The owner had had half a dozen properties his "friend" was "managing," and the "friend" was supposed to be paying the mortgages on them from the rental proceeds. (In Nevada, by law you must have a property management license to manage rentals that belong to someone other than yourself.)

Unfortunately, the "friend" never made a mortgage payment and absconded with the hefty security deposits and monthly rental fees being paid by the tenants. It also turned out that the owner had never even signed the rental agreement on this particular property. His signature had been forged and the "friend" had told him that this property had remained unrented.

The real estate agent's chances of recouping his $4500 security deposit is almost nil. He has to find another home to rent and move his wife, three kids and brother plus assorted pets in a very short time. The owner's home is already foreclosed upon and he lost all his equity to the bank.

How can tenants protect themselves from this happening to them?In Las Vegas, Noble Title Company is offering a $200 service for tenants called a "Request for Notice." The service identifies the legal owner of the property and whether or not the property is currently in foreclosure. If the landlord is not in foreclosure, the Request for Notice requires the bank to notify the renter should the home go into foreclosure, which would give the tenant at least four months to pack up and move before the bank repossesses the home.

At least with this service, if the tenant receives a notice that the property is in foreclosure, they could opt NOT to pay rent to recoup some of their expenses and their potentially lost security deposit. And they wouldn't be quite so jammed for time to find a new place to live. (The real estate agent mentioned above had a real problem. He already had his kids in specific Las Vegas schools, and there were no other large properties in that area for rent. He was not only forced to move his family to a different home, his kids had to move schools as well.)

So tenants beware! Even though you are only renting a home, you still need to do your due diligence to make sure you aren't unexpectedly out on the street and out of pocket as well. See posts more about Las Vegas Real Estate here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

National Foreclosure Crisis Not as Bad as it Seems

I just read this great article by Scott Burns, and thought I would like to share it with my readers! Makes great sense amid all the media hullaballoo. And for those with savvy, right now is a terrific time to buy Las Vegas real estate!

Sure, there are pockets of pain around the US, but it's not as if most Americans are losing their homes. More than 99% of homes aren't in foreclosure. By Scott Burns

A recent list of year-end mortgage foreclosure rates in 100 top metropolitan areas drew a lot of attention. Released by RealtyTrac, a company that compiles data on home foreclosures, the list showed the number of foreclosure filings in each metro area, the percentage of homes being foreclosed and the percentage change from the previous year. Though the report had some dismal news -- such as the nearly 4.9% foreclosure rate in the Stockton, Calif., area -- a close look at the data also provides some reassuring information. It tells me, for instance, that the foreclosure crisis is a regional problem, not a systemic one. It could become a systemic problem, of course, but we're a long way from that now.

This news will disappoint the gloom-and-doom crew and all those seeking the excitement of financial upheaval. But it may be time to temper our worry and take a closer look at some of the year-over-year foreclosure statistics: Though the national rate of foreclosure increased by a whopping 79% between December 2006 and December 2007, the rate was still only 1.033%. Because about 30% of all homes are owned mortgage-free, this means that for all the noise about a crisis, only seven-tenths of 1% of all homes were in foreclosure.

In the top 100 housing markets, the average foreclosure rate was somewhat higher -- 1.38% -- and it was up 78% over the previous year. (Even in the Valley, where the Las Vegas foreclosures at at 4.23%, most of those are investment properties bought in the heat of the boom.) But if you rank-ordered the list of the top 100 areas, only 34 had foreclosure rates above the group average. Fifty-one areas had rates of 1% or less. Foreclosure rates actually fell in 14 of the 100 areas. More important, many of the areas with the highest increases in foreclosure rates were rising off rates that were tiny. The Bethesda, Md., area, to offer the most extreme case, saw foreclosures rise 1,288% -- to a rate of 0.682%. In other words, foreclosures there were virtually nonexistent the year before. Today they are still well below the national average. The same can be said for the Albany, N.Y., area (up 638% to 0.25%), the Baltimore area (up 544% to 0.73%) and the Providence, R.I., area (up 354% to 0.41%).

Another pattern emerges if you cross the foreclosure rates with the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) index of home prices. It shows that the top 10 foreclosure areas in America are areas of extreme price change -- changes far from the national average of 46.92% over the past five years. Seven of the top 10 foreclosure areas had experienced major price spikes in the past five years. Three of the top 10 foreclosure areas had experienced price increases that were dramatically lower than the national average.

That pattern continues when you examine the top 25 foreclosure areas. The seven areas with the top price appreciation for the past five years averaged a stunning 91.6% increase, nearly double the national average. The national average, in turn, was about triple the inflation rate for the period. (Las Vegas homes increased 88.3% over the past five years.) Small wonder the foreclosure rate is booming as well. Anyone who bought in the past few years with a 5% or 10% down payment has a good chance of being upside down as froth comes off the market. In those areas the problem is about irrational price spikes and the hazards they bring to homeownership.

Some would call this "a Cadillac problem" -- a great problem to have, like having more boats than you have water-skiers. Though 5% of the homeowners may be losing their homes, most of the other 95% probably feel significantly richer.

Las Vegas new homes builders are running out of inventory and lower priced housing is starting to get multiple offers again. 2008 is going to be a better year for the Las Vegas market, for sure!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Palms Place Condos Ready to Close - Resale Units Now Available

During the month of March both the much anticipated Palms Place and Trump Tower will be closing on their condo hotel units. In Palms Place, which is a smaller boutique project catering to hot young celebrities, the demand for resale units is expected to be higher than the supply.

When the Palms Place originally offered their condo hotel suites for purchase to the public in 2004, they were snapped up by hotel regulars. Frustrated Palms patrons who were not among the lucky few to secure a unit drifted to the Hard Rock, the other hotel catering to the young and trendy, only to be later disappointed when that project was scrapped in a sale to the Morgan's Hotel Group.

Now the Palms Place tower is finished and has finally opened the doors to its first luxury condo residents, including rapper Eminem, wrestler Hulk Hogan, and singer Jessica Simpson. Palms Place is a 599 unit boutique project with a mix of fully furnished 600-square-foot studio units and 1,200-square-foot one-bedroom suites, while the more exclusive clients own penthouses on the top four floors. Palms Place is associated with the Palms Hotel and Casino which boasts the city's most popular nightclubs, arena and a PlayBoy Club.

Closings will be progressing during the month of March on the condo hotel suites, with only a small fraction expected to be put up for resale contrary to condo hotel projects like the MGM Residences where over 150 units are currently on the market. But a few over-leveraged purchasers are expected to be offering their Palms Place units for sale as they come to closing. There are currently about half a dozen units that are available with prices starting in the high $500s. With the Las Vegas homes market finally picking up momentum again in spite of the national housing bust, none of these units are projected to last long as the word spreads.

To get more information on available units or to be put on the priority interest list to receive notice of units as soon as they become listed, please contact our office at 702-985-7654 of fill out the form online at: Palms Place Registration

In the meantime, down the street at Trump Tower the first closings will also be going on during March for those who are looking for immediate possession of a Las Vegas condo hotel in a quieter atmosphere in keeping with Trump name. The Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas will contain 880 studio units and 352 one-bedroom condominiums and 50 suites of one, two, or three bedrooms on the top five floors. Other popular condo hotel projects that will not be finished until late 2009 are the MGM City Center and the Cosmopolitan Resort Hotel and Casino. Both projects are located right on the center Strip next door to the Bellagio Hotel and are currently selling preconstruction.

To get floor plans or more information on any of these properties please visit our web site at: Las Vegas High Rise Condos

Attention investors! If you have already purchased a condo hotel property or are considering buying one, we have access to 25% down condo hotel financing on full document loans or 45% on stated income loans. Please contact our office so that we can put you in touch with our Las Vegas mortgage lenders.

Las Vegas Condo Sales Still Hot

Apparently, people with money are still willing to pay to own a piece of the Strip. The Las Vegas single-family housing market is slowly picking up again as bargain hunters flock to pick up Las Vegas foreclosures and short sale properties.

Luxury Las Vegas High Rise Condos along the resort corridor, however, are actually flourishing. The first new residents are expected to take ownership of their high-rise one- and two-bedroom units inside the Trump International and Palms Place this month. The Palms Place was such a small boutique project that buyers are lining up to purchase any resales that might become available after closing. Many of these buyers had purchased in the Hard Rock Hotel project, only to be frustrated when Hard Rock owner Peter Morton sold the property to the Morgan's Hotel Group and the project was scrapped.

Luxury condominium sales along Las Vegas Boulevard are also going strong. Sales of the nearly 2,670 residential units within MGM Mirage's $8.1 billion to $8.4 billion MGM City Center development are proceeding at a steady clip.As of last month, buyers had claimed more than half of CityCenter's residential offerings, totaling more than $1.67 billion in sales. CityCenter, a 77-acre site that includes a 4,000-room hotel-casino, boutique hotels, and a massive retail, entertainment and dining pavilion as its centerpiece, doesn't open until November 2009.

"Demand for the residential offerings at CityCenter continues to exceed expectations," said Bob Hamrick, senior vice president of CityCenter Realty Corp. Several multimillion-dollar penthouses have been sold at the Harmon, one of CityCenter's four residential offerings. Residences at the Harmon, which is owned by the Light Group, are attracting a celebrity-laden list of buyers. The Harmon, a nongaming hotel, has 207 residential units, including 15 penthouses.

In addition, the $2.2 billion Encore, CityCenter, the Cosmopolitan, and the $2.9 billion Fontainebleau are all scheduled to open in 2009. These new resorts have the potential to boost Las Vegas' business prospects by quantum leaps as they add more than 120,000 new jobs to the local economy. Experts are predicting that by 2011 Las Vegas will experience another housing shortage and the Las Vegas real estate boom days will be back.

It's no wonder that the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo Center are adding convention space. The Las Vegas Sands is planning to replace its 1.2 million square foot Sands Expo & Convention Center with a new $680-million development on an adjacent site. The site could hold 10 to 14 million square feet of development. The Las Vegas Convention Center will undergo another major renovation beginning in the middle of this year. The $890 million project—the largest investment in the center's history—will include the construction of a new grand lobby that will connect all of the center's three halls, and the development of a meeting room concourse, adjacent to the South Hall, that will provide 87,000 square feet of new meeting space, for a total of 321,000 square feet. And the new Echelon development will also add more than 750,000 square feet of total meeting and convention space.

For the most up to date Las Vegas real estate information call our office at 702-985-7654.