Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ancient history vs. Vegas development

Ashley Powers writes:

LAS VEGAS -- Local real estate agent Sandy Croteau made a somewhat surprising pitch as she traipsed through a vacant, gravel-filled wash: She wants to spare the expanse from home developers.

Trying to halt this city's growth may be a Sisyphean task, but Croteau, 60, is counting on help from some sun-worn mammoth bones. About 10,000 bison, camel and mammoth fossils have been unearthed in recent years in a nearly 13,000-acre ribbon of the Upper Las Vegas Wash just south of Desert National Wildlife Refuge. And with builders champing to get at the property, the federal Bureau of Land Management must figure out how much of the land to preserve.

Acknowledging the fossils' archeological import, Las Vegas officials have backed a plan that would shield about one quarter of the wash from development. But, they argue, conserving the entire area would thwart growth north of the city, where there is still room for homes and water and sewer lines.

With streets nearby already lined with bulldozers or adjacent subdivisions, Croteau and other activists have gathered hundreds of signatures in support of protecting the entire stretch.

"The first time I saw this, it changed my life," said Croteau, her shadow darkening mammoth bones still in the dirt. "Do we really need a Quickstop here?"

Market Conditions For Las Vegas

Scott writes:

The Grass is Always Greener….

Not if you’re looking to buy or invest in Las Vegas right now! The grass is definitely greener on your side of the fence. If you’re trying to sell your property right now, trust me, you’re feeling the pain – at the very least you are frustrated. While this manifests as doom and gloom in the press, it can be the opportunity of a lifetime if you can filter out the noise.

What is the noise? It is record numbers of foreclosures, short sales, limited financing availability, bank owned properties and a number of other things that are alarming to the market in general. These are the things that the media is focusing on. You don’t hear much about the buyers of properties that are 10, 20, even 30% below what was paid for them less than two years ago!

How can a house drop in value that fast and not be afraid of it? First off, there is a very mechanical process that happens during the foreclosure process now – elimination of the second mortgage. With all of the 100% financing that was going on, the bulk of those transactions had a 20% second mortgage in place to eliminate PMI. When the foreclosure becomes final and the property becomes bank owned (REO), the second mortgage is effectively eliminated – overnight drop in value of 20%! This is causing a real problem for those who are looking to sell their properties in a traditional manner. It is this problem that is being focused on in the media, doom and gloom.

Why shouldn’t I be afraid of this type of property? Simply because others’ pain is your gain. Look back at some of my past market reports (if you can’t find them, contact me and I’ll get them to you) and you’ll have my clear opinion on what the Vegas economy is setting itself up to do. When the local market strengthens it is those that had the foresight to buy when everything was on sale (right now!) that will be left holding the bag of money.

Las Vegas Condo Portfolio Sells for $75M

Tonie Auer writes:

While the Las Vegas condo market continues to move slowly, two condominium complexes just sold to an undisclosed buyer for a combined $75.4 million.

San Diego-based Grubb & Ellis|BRE Commercial and Grubb & Ellis|Las Vegas facilitated the sale of the two complexes, The Crossing at Green Valley and Martinique Bay, both of which are located in the Vegas suburb of Henderson.

The seller of the Crossing at Green Valley (pictured) was the Crossing Apartments Las Vegas L.L.C. with WLA Investments Inc. as the managing member. The seller of Martinique Bay was the Martinique Bay Apartments Las Vegas L.P., also with WLA as managing member.

Both properties are located in the master-planned community of Green Valley within the city limits of Henderson. Situated less than one mile apart, both properties are approximately a 10-minue drive southeast of the Las Vegas Strip.

The portfolio had 24 bids before the $75.4 million sale. Brokers in the deal said the quick sale and the price demonstrate that Las Vegas continues to be an active and competitive market for multi-family investors, despite the over-supplied condo market.

"Any solid market still has a demand for quality buildings in a solid location, and Las Vegas is still growing,” noted Diane Miramontes, a principal with Grubb & Ellis Co., who represented the seller in the deal. “There was a run up in the housing market that affected everybody a little bit, but there will always be … people who want to live in nice spots and these are nice products," Miramontes told CPN today.

Vegas Strip shows

Barry O'Brien writes:

LAS Vegas claims to be the city where dreams come true. Trouble is, in Vegas there is no time to sleep, let alone dream.

It's been 30 years since I last visited Vegas and, although there have been massive changes, it was in many ways just as I remembered it: all glitz and glamour.

Everywhere you look, cranes dot the skyline creating new gambling palaces.

The old Aladdin's Casino, which had a Moroccan theme, has had a $75 million facelift and is now Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, incorporating the Miracle Mile Shops, a mall of 170 stores and restaurants.

Across the road, MGM is creating a city within a city with towers, condos, residential properties and a resort.

On the site of the former Boardwalk, which boasted a roller-coaster ride, the MGM project is the largest privately funded development ever.

Housing downturn boosts multifamily rentals

Tony Illia writes:

Reeling residential and subprime mortgage markets have increased the number of renters in the Las Vegas Valley. Potential home buyers required to come up with substantial down payments amid tightening credit are increasingly turning to high-end multifamily rentals, reports the Bentley Group, a local real estate advisory firm.

"Nearly 40,000 hotel rooms are coming on line over the next four years, creating more than 285,000 new jobs," Bentley Group President Christopher Bentley said. "Demand for multifamily product will increase to meet the housing needs of new employees."

Yet, the 23,494 homes listed for sale last month have created a "shadow" rental market. Roughly 25 percent or more of those units are being used as rentals until the housing market rebounds. Multifamily builders, as a result, will only deliver 1,500 new units this year, or about 1,000 fewer than in 2006, reports Marcus & Millichap, a real estate brokerage. Vacancies are expected to remain low as rents grow by 3 percent.

...A Boston-based investor, for example, recently bought the 18-year-old, 256-unit Martinique Bay Apartments at 3000 High View Drive in Henderson for $31.85 million, or $124,414 per unit. The 12.92-acre, 278,840 square-foot complex is mapped for condominiums. The sale price equals $114 per square foot. Grubb & Ellis' Joseph Kupiec, Diane Miramontes and Darcy Miramontes represent the seller.

"While many continue to paint a 'doom and gloom' picture of the Las Vegas real estate market, fundamentals within the industry remain healthy," Bentley said. "The multifamily market in particular has remained healthy and is expected to continue to offer sound investment opportunities."

TECHSHOW-Economic worries mar tech show's glitz

SAN FRANCISCO/LAS VEGAS, Jan 8 (Reuters) - The world's major technology companies are trying to convince consumers they need an expensive, digitally connected home with the latest high-tech gadgets.

But there's a problem: an increasing number of consumers are having trouble just paying for the roof over the heads, much less a 150-inch television.

Few company executives at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week can avoid questions about the state of the economy, and the combination of a surge in the U.S. jobless rate, oil around $100 and a worsening credit and housing crisis has many on edge.

"The fourth quarter is full of strange, unanswerable situations related to unemployment, related to GDP, related to everything else," Sony Corp (6758.T: Quote, Profile, Research) Chief Executive Howard Stringer said on Monday after a briefing at the show. "So it's too soon for us to be pessimistic, but I read the papers."