Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Las Vegas Real Estate Update

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.

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