Selling real estate in Las Vegas has been a challenge the last few years. It’s been a challenge everywhere but no market has been like Las Vegas. Vegas was ground zero for the housing bubble and bubble burst. We then had prices sink down down down to levels not seen for twenty years.
The government, in its own inept way, tried to help punish the banks for their willy nilly foreclosure practices and passed a law requiring them to prove they had the papers in hand to foreclose on a property. Because they not only didn’t have those papers and can’t find them because many of them were never created, foreclosures came to an absolute screeching halt. Many people here have been living in their homes for almost three, yes three years without making a payment and there may not be a notice of default filed on their property.
How does that help you buy a house in Las Vegas? What helps you are knowing and understanding the following ten things:
- There are very few houses available and currently out of all the single family homes on the market, less than 23% of them are open to receiving an offer. All the buyers looking for a single family home are competing for a small number of houses available for sale.
- 82% of the houses on the market in Clark County are priced at $250,000 and lower. This means that if you’re buying in this price range, this is where all the competing buyers are looking to buy as well.
- Most condos and townhouses can not be financed. When the investors jumped ship first in 2006-2009, the banks decided financing condos and townhouses was way too risky and so quit loaning on them. So unless you have cash, except for a very small percentage of properties that may be eligible for conventional financing, you probably won’t be able to get a mortgage for that condo.
- Always assume you’re going to be one of multiple offers. Almost every property out there that’s nice receives from 2 to 22 offers or more.
- If you don’t need help with closing costs, don’t ask for them. When sellers are looking at multiple offers, they are always going to choose the offer that either: nets them the most money (no closing costs or repairs) or closes the quickest.
- An all cash offer doesn’t always get the deal. One reason sellers like cash is there is no banks to deal with an no appraiser to contend with who believes the house is worth less that the market will bear. Even with little inventory, a low appraisal can make a deal fall apart quickly. But a higher priced financed offer will be seriously weighed against a lowball cash offer.
- Understand what a home warranty can and can not do for you. There are a number of good home warranty companies in Las Vegas and I, like many agents, have a favorite. A home warranty is great for taking care of major unexpected repairs like an air conditioning unit that was working when you bought the house but suddenly decides not to after you’ve owned the house for a month. Only having to pay a $60 service call is worth having to come up with $4000 to replace a central air conditioning unit.
- Agents seldom present offers to the seller in person. Despite what you see on TV, most agents email over your offer with the required documents like your proof of funds or loan approval and a copy of your earnest money check to the listing agent who, in turn, may just email it on to the seller. With sellers being located all over the country, and agents working with a large number of clients, having the ability to present offers electronically makes things much faster. The downside is you, as a buyer’s agent, can’t easily make an emotional case for your buyer to the seller and his agent.
- As of today, July 9, 2012, 33% of the houses on the MLS are NOT in distress. This means they are not short sales or bank owned. You are now dealing directly with a private seller (whether its an investor or an owner occupant) 66% of the time. That’s a far cry from nine months ago when over 66% of the houses on the market were in distress. However, buyers are still not shying away from short sales, because 64% of the houses over all on the market are short sales and only 8% of those are available for an offer.
- Last, I can’t believe I’m still saying this, don’t expect your lowball offer to be considered. When you’re competing with a number of buyers, your offer has to be attractive to be considered. My favorite saying is offer the highest amount you’re willing to pay and that if you don’t get the house because someone would pay $1 more than you, you’re okay with it. No buyer’s regrets of “I would have paid that much or more to get that house.”
Las Vegas is a very competitive real estate market these days. We don’t know how long it will stay this way, but if you’re ready to buy when the rates are the lowest they’ve been since the 1940’s, make sure you make your offer the best one you can. Believe your agent when they explain the pricing and what you may and may not want to ask for in your offer.
You may not get a second chance.