Las Vegas, like Macau or Dubai, is a dazzling monument of self-invention. Over the past two decades, the former desert outpost has transformed from a seedy gaming town into a hub for world-class entertainment, high-end hotels, Michelin star restaurants and the largest collection of high-end flagship stores in the United States. Yet, there have been setbacks along the way. Las Vegas was one of the most hard-hit housing markets in the post-bubble recession. Home prices tumbled more than 60 percent from their 2006 peak through their 2011 bottom with a foreclosure rate that topped the nation. But over the last few years, the market has shown signs of recovery. Affordable prices, a stabilising market, no state income tax and year-round sunshine are drawing home buyers back to the city.
After bottoming out at US$118,000 in January 2012, the median price of a detached property rose to US$204,000 in December 2014. This is still well below the US$315,000 peak set in June 2006, but demand is picking up, particularly in upscale areas away from the flashy casinos of Las Vegas Boulevard. “The recent upturn has been buoyed by the high-end market. Sales of homes for US$1.5 million and higher have led to the median price increasing,” says Keith Lynam, president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.
- The median price of detached homes sold in May 2015 was US$211,250, up 8.3 percent from US$195,000 the year previous
- The median price of condominiums and townhomes sold in May was US$112,000, up 9.8 percent from US$102,000 one year ago.
- Inventory is low and reflected in the volume of sales. Compared to May 2014, 2.6 percent fewer homes and 2.2 percent fewer condos and townhomes sold this May
According to the residential property tracker Trulia, median sales prices Vaknin, a partner at KRE Capital LLC. “Downtown Las Vegas has become the new hotspot,” he says. “Buyers love our proximity to the major roadways and highways, Chinatown, The Strip, great restaurants, museums and the airport.” Vaknin’s company recently redeveloped The Ogden in partnership with Dune Real Estate Partners, a condominium building they purchased in 2013.
The developers installed new lighting, hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances and upgraded amenities such as a sky deck, clubroom, fitness centre, and a renovated outdoor pool. Apartments at The Ogden range from 815sf one-bedroom residences priced at US$229,000 to three-bedroom 2,044sf homes at US$629,000. Residences feature private balconies and expansive views of downtown Las Vegas, The Strip and the mountains that frame the valley. Sales launched in November 2014 and to date, 85 units have been sold.
According to Vaknin, buyers realise the value in a market that is still recovering. “Las Vegas is truly one of the last cities in America that is still on sale,” he says. “Real estate prices in other major metropolitan markets have recovered more fully, while Las Vegas is still catching up. That means there are still many great values to be had here, and The Ogden is among those exceptionally great buys, particularly before the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates later this year.”
Downtown Las Vegas offers a lifestyle different from The Strip—the area is home to the city’s museums, the Smith Centre for the Performing Arts, restaurants, bars, and the Life is Beautiful arts festival. Buyers looking for a more quintessentially Vegas experience tend to look further south along Las Vegas Boulevard.
The Veer Towers, located in the heart of CityCenter is currently the only exclusively residential condominium project on the Strip and offers studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with prices starting from US$250,000. The project’s largest residence is located on the 21st floor of the West Tower and features 2,256sf with 270-degree views of Aria, Bellagio Fountains and the Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower. The apartment is listed at US$2.3 million.
Only a handful of units at Veer Towers remain on the market and sales director Darwin Dizon says buyers have been drawn to the lifestyle that the location affords. “It’s an opportunity for owners to drop 15 floors and walk anywhere—to restaurants, luxury boutiques, casinos,” he says. Building amenities include a rooftop infinity pool, a 24-hour gym, a residential lounge and valet parking, though residents may not require a car—Aria is just steps away and there’s a tram that shuttles them to the Bellagio.
While condo sales are strong and energy is back in the market, not all housing sectors in Las Vegas are thriving. During the 2007 crash, townhouse and condos in some areas lost up to 90 percent of their value and have barely returned to half of their former median price. Oversupply and lack of interest from investors have put continued downward pressure on the prices of some condos. Many of the projects that were abandoned during the recession have been revived and analysts believe the market may be returning to where it is likely to have been had growth continued as normal during the bubble years.
Las Vegas at a glance
- Las Vegas receives over 41 million visitors annually, more than Mecca
- The average property tax rate for Clark county in 2012-2013 was 3.1 percent. The local sale tax rate is 8.1 percent.
- The region averages just 21 days of rainfall a year, while the average annual temperature is about 21°c.
This story was first published in Palace Magazine