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.


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