Las Vegas Real Estate News

Boulder City Gets New Housing Community

Boulder City is an anomaly in many ways when compared to the rest of the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The population is only 16,000 people. Sandwiched between Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area and Lake Mead National Recreation Area, it's one of only two cities in Nevada that prohibits gambling.

The city restricts growth by issuing a small number of building permits each year. Therefore, unlike the rest of the region, Boulder City has been slow-growing.

Las Vegas builder Wayne Laska is changing that script. His company, StoryBook Homes, will be developing a 30-acre parcel, placing 127 homes into a community that will be called Boulder Hill Estate. This will be the first large scale housing community in the city since the 1990s.

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The project will be completed in three phases of roughly 10 acres each. StoryBook Homes bought the first parcel from the city for about $3 million. Construction began in September of 2018 and is expected to continue for several years.

Homes in Boulder Hills Estates are expected to start around $410,000 with some models going to $520,000. At 30 miles from Las Vegas, these homes will be an ideal bedroom community for people who work in the city but want to live in a small town atmosphere.

Boulder City has worked hard to maintain its small town feel, growing only 6.7 percent since 2000. By contrast, Clark County as whole has grown 60 percent in population in that same time.

Because Boulder City issues very few new home permits each year, it's one of the few places in the Las Vegas area that has mostly older homes as opposed the massive "new" construction that has occurred in the city since the turn of the century.

Anyone hoping for the small town feel of Boulder City with new construction, Boulder Hill Estates will meet that need.

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5 Things Not To Do When Home Shopping

If it's your first time home-buying, it can be hard knowing right from wrong, what to do, and what not to do.

Some of the ideas listed below will save you money; other are simply good ideas. All will make your life easier in the long run.

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1. Don't call the listing agent - It seems so easy, and the listing agent wants you to do it: you see their name on the sign and you call them to learn more about the house. Don't. They work for the seller. While they'll be happy to help you, their first loyalty is to the seller. You will not necessarily get a better price by calling the listing agent. It's their job to get the seller the best price they can. What you really need is a buyer's agent; someone who is dedicated to getting you what you need, including the best price.

2. No looking without the contract - Don't go out to look at houses until you've signed a contract with a buyer's agent. That lets them know you're serious and that you have serious expectations. Important point: Only work with one agent at a time. It's bad form to have a bunch of people running around trying to help you. You can always change agents if and when you need to.

3. Get pre-approved - Don't even bother putting in an offer without a pre-approval letter. That letter tells the seller that you have the backing of the bank for your mortgage. If the seller gets comparable offers and one has pre-approval, they will always choose the one that doesn't have the risk of being turned down for a mortgage. Getting pre-approved is simple, and will help you get the house you want. If you're paying via cash, have the proof of funds letter ready.

4. Be there when you say you will - Home showings usually take a lot of effort. Often, two agents need to coordinate, then they have to work with the seller to get the house cleared out. Not showing up or even being late is simply rude. Worse, it's going to leave a bad taste in everyone's mouths, and you might find yourself without any help to find a new home.

5. If you ain't ready, forget it - Everyone from the home sellers to the agents are trying to make money and a living. Don't waste everyone's time if you're not really ready to buy a house. If you want to window shop, go to open houses. That's what they're for. Don't take up people's time if you're not really ready to buy. Everyone prefers to work with people who are serious.

These are all really simple rules, and they don't require a lot of commitment in time or emotions. Just make them happen, and your home buying experience will be much better.

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Who Are The Future Homebuyers?

According to a new report from Realtor.com, the new homebuyers will be women, millennials, and Hispanics.

Their researchers looked at the first names of people on real estate deeds. This allows them to estimate who is buying homes and where.

Seven of the top ten names on new real estate deeds

Seven of the top ten names appearing on real estate deeds are women. Names like Hannah, Alexis, Taylor, and Brooke are the names that show up most on new deeds.

What does this mean?

There will be a change in the ways that homes are sold. Women, as a group, have a different set of priorities than men. The lawn might not be as important as the layout of the interior.

Furthermore, there will need to be a significant change in how young women are treated. Since most of these names are millennial names, these women are in their 20s and 30s. That means that the days of “why don’t you send your husband by to talk about the money part,” are long over. Women oversee the money and in the next 20 years, the buying power will shift to women.

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The Millennial Wave is real

Deeds with millennial names increased 5.3 percent in 2018. This is the largest generation since the Baby Boomers and they are rapidly controlling more of the economic power. Millennial buyers are significant in Kansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, and Utah. Affordable homes are the key. In places where prices are high, like the coasts and Texas, millennials are not buying.

What does this mean?

This is the generation that saw their parents and older siblings decimated by the housing crisis of 2008. Now, 10 years later, they want homes with value, not just high price tags.

Watch for solid job markets to attract this generation as with other generations. To know how to price a home, look at the help wanted ads for jobs that pay well and require college degrees.

Hispanic Buying Power Continues to Increase

Hispanic buyers are continuing to have a huge impact on the market. From Texas to California, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey, the number of Hispanic names on deeds grew by 4.1 percent. Even partially Hispanic names grew by 3.7 percent. Not all the buyers are coming over our Southern border; many arrive from the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico.

What does this mean?

It means that in order to sell a home, especially in the states listed above, a listing should be bilingual. Often, it’s not that the buyers don’t speak any English, but they are more comfortable speaking and negotiating in Spanish. A bilingual real estate agent will of a long way to helping you sell your home faster.

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A Few Quick Tips Before Applying For A Mortgage

Here is a very quick guide to the things you need to know before you apply for a mortgage.

  • What is a good credit score? A perfect credit score is 850; the worst credit score is 300. Anything between 760 and 850 is excellent. 700 to 759 is good. 650 to 699 is fair. Anything below that is likely to be problematic when it comes to getting a good interest rate. One of the fastest ways to fix your credit rating is to pay off the smaller debts that you can control quickly.
  • Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. You need to be able to show that your debts and income are in line. If your DTI is too high, you can’t get a mortgage. You need to have a DTI under 36% with a mortgage figured in. Calculating your DTI is simple. Add up all your debts, including the mortgage payment you’re working with, and divide that by monthly income. That will give you your DTI. If your DTI is too high, it’s simple to take it down; make large payments to your debts and get things paid off.
  • Figure out your down payment. Most people think you need a 20% down payment. The truth is that there are lots mortgages that require much less, as low as 0%. By knowing how much you need to put down, you can figure out how much house you can buy. Many mortgage programs will tell you up front how much you need. Some government loan programs require nothing down. You will also want to make sure that you have enough money for closing costs, etc. You don’t want to get all the way through your negotiations and find out that you don’t have enough money to close your mortgage. Be sure to talk with your loan officer to help determine how much money you’ll need for your down payment.

Applying For A Mortgage

If you have these three things under control before you apply for a mortgage, your chances of being approved and getting a home you’re happy with will increase significantly.

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Get Pre-Approved With A Lender

Pre-approval of a mortgage is one of those requirements that many real estate agents have made standard. There are several reasons that pre-approval can save a lot of time, money, effort, and even lives.

  • Realtor safety - Getting pre-approved shows that you're a real buyer. While that's probably not an issue for you, there have been several cases recently of realtors being killed on the job. By applying for and getting pre-approved for a mortgage, it creates a paper trail that bad person wouldn't risk.
  • Sellers may ask for it - Smart sellers, especially those who have to clear out of their house for a showing, will require that the potential buyer be pre-approved for the house. That way they can be reasonably sure that they aren't wasting their time and needing to leave their home for someone who can't afford it.
  • Negotiations are easier - If you're pre-approved, your Realtor can better negotiate a deal. They know that you have the money to buy the house and can get it paid off quickly. When they submit paperwork, it will help them to get the right price for you versus buyers who have to include a contingency that they get approved for a loan.
  • Less frustration - Buyers can fall in love with homes that they can't afford. That leads to a lot of disappointment and frustration. By having a pre-approval in hand, you can be assured the house you just looked at is one you can afford and that will be approved for a loan. It also makes it easier for the realtor to stay in your price range, therefore not wasting their time or yours.

Get Pre-Approved With A Lender

Getting pre-approved in no longer a luxury; it has become a necessity for most home buyers and requirement for most realtors.

The truth is that it's easy than it has ever been and, for many people, can take only minutes online.

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Student Loans & Homeownership Can Exist Together

Americans owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. With the average graduate in the class of 2017 owing $40,000, it can feel like a huge anchor preventing homeownership for the rest of their lives.

The reality is that homeownership levels between those who owe student loan debt and those that don't evens up in their 30s.

In 2017, the Federal Reserve issued a report that said that for every $1,000 of student loan debt, homeownership was delayed by 2.5 months. That means that that average graduate will be delayed by about 100 months or over 8 years in their dream of owning a home.

Some changes are making student loan debts less burdensome. Longer payment periods, higher incomes, and lower payment to income ratios are all making student loan a bit less of an anchor to home ownership.

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Millennials invested a great deal into education, and they are starting to see the payoff. The median income for the Millennial generation is higher already when compared to Baby Boomers and will soon surpass Generation X.

The biggest barriers to homeownership, according for First Am's Real Estate Sentiment Index, isn't debt. It's lack of inventory and overall high prices. There are also lots of misunderstandings about the size of down payment needed to purchase a home.

There are several ways to overcome the high debt issues that student loans cause:

  • Get a good grasp on your debt-to-earnings ratio, your complete debt portfolio, and your FICO score. Pay off the easy stuff so that you aren't carrying unnecessary debt.
  • Look at any of the many down payment assistance programs. You might find yourself not having to pay any down payment.
  • Look at shared equity for the down payment.

If homeownership is a dream that you have, even with student loan debt, it's worth exploring your options. There is a good chance that you can own a home even with that monthly payment.

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Renting Or Buying, Which Makes More Sense?

There are more renters today than at any point in the last 50 years. That might seem strange given how the politicians want to tell you how great the economy is, but there are a number of factors that make renting a necessity for many people.

  • Home prices are higher than they have been in years.
  • Many people took a hit in housing crash of 2008.
  • Homes are expensive to own versus a rental unit where you can simply call the landlord.

The problem that this has created is that rental rates are rising everywhere. The demand for rental units keeps driving the prices up and vacancies down.

Should you buy a house instead of rent?

Deciding whether to buy or rent is a very personal decision, but there are some guidelines that you can use to make your decision:

  • How's your credit? If your credit rating is low, take this time to fix it. There are services that can help you improve your credit, but the fundamentals are easy. Pay off your debts even if you need to negotiate a payment plan. Get errors on your credit report fixed. You can do this through sites like CreditKarma.
  • What are home prices like where you want to live? If your area has incredibly high home prices, it might be time to rent and wait for the market to adjust.
  • Do you have a down payment? Even if you're going to try for a VA loan with little or no down payment, you should have a nest egg for inspections, closing costs, etc. You will also want to make sure that have money in case any appliances need to be repaired or you have roof problems.
  • Is your job stable? While no one has perfect job security, you need to make sure that the job you have is going to be there once you buy the house.
  • Have you looked to the future of your neighborhood? Some neighborhoods are in decline. You don't want to buy a house in an area where you might lose your investment to a neighborhood that's getting rougher and less desirable.

Renting Or Buying

Compare rental rate versus a mortgage. You can calculate a mortgage easily using an online calculator. Be sure to include insurance, taxes, etc. that must all be paid. To guess at your interest, look for a site that breaks out mortgage rates based on your current credit rating. Talking with a lender will get you more detailed information about rates and payments. It is highly recommended to speak with a lender.

Cost of Home Ownership

Another potentially huge cost is the cost of repairs. Furnaces, roofs, and more can all cost thousands of dollars. If you don't have the money in savings, you can find yourself struggling. It's wise to make sure you have some money or a flexible line of credit to tap into if you need to.

Think about these issues while you debate buying a home. The most important factor is desire. Do you really want to own a house? If yes, then you can start getting your ducks in a row to make that happen.

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Las Vegas Construction Above National Average

One of the most powerful indicators of a strong economy and a solid long-term future is construction hiring and total projects.

Construction hiring in the Las Vegas area is up 8.8 percent over last year. With multiple housing tracts, an NFL stadium, and lots of other projects on the ground, construction employment in Southern Nevada outpaced the rest of the country by nearly 5%.

The report from the Associated General Contractors of America drew data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While those numbers are subject to revision, it places Las Vegas number 58 of the 358 metro areas listed by the group.

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The current situation, both locally and nationally, is a labor shortage, particularly of qualified and skilled contractors.

Homebuilders in the region closed on more houses than at any time in the last decade. Sales are still much lower than prior to the housing crisis of the mid-2000's.

Several massive projects are having a huge impact on the region's employment: the state's highway widening around the Spaghetti Bowl, Project Neon, the Raiders football stadium, the Resorts World Las Vegas 3400-room resort, as well as the Convention Center expansion.

Overall, the construction industry has approached the post-recession recovery with caution, increasing the likelihood that this strong situation will be sustainable.

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Las Vegas Home Prices Rise, But Are Still Below 2006 Prices

Many people are beginning to panic that Las Vegas home prices are as high as they were in 2006. While home prices are way up since the rock bottom median price $118,000 after the bubble burst, they are still not at the level of peak of the last housing bubble.

If you adjust the 2006 median home price for inflation that home would be $390,000. Today's median home price is just $300,000. Even the unadjusted median price of $318,000 in 2006 is higher than today's median price.

Much of the country has returned to or surpassed the pre-crash home price highs, but Las Vegas is still behind in that curve.

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Builders sold around 10,700 homes last year, a number that is only 3,900 more than 2011 after the crash. That number pales in comparison to the 2005 sales number 39,000!

There is a fear and memory of the last housing bubble that took down the economy and almost plunged the world into a depression. This fear leads to cautiousness about building too much inventory or allowing prices to skyrocket.

The growth at this time doesn't appear to be caused by lax (if not unscrupulous) lending, massive construction, and rampant house-flipping. This growth appears to be due to legitimate population growth and demand. The low supply of houses combined with a massive generation, the Millennials, coming into their own are creating a healthy growth in home prices.

While home prices have jumped and will continue to climb, there is not reason to think that this time around the bottom will drop out and millions will have homes foreclosed.

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A New $400 Million Development Is Coming To Las Vegas

The new $400 million development will include apartments, retail, and office space for businesses. A newly arrived business can have its staff living right within walking distance. Most of what those employees need to live, like cafes and grocery stores, will be located within the development.

"I think that this will be one of the finest representations of retail off the Las Vegas strip," Vice President of Development at Matter Real Estate Group Tom van Betten told Fox5 Las Vegas. "By creating a workplace that integrates all these retail services, directly supporting the office tenants is something that is in Las Vegas, but not at this scale."

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Matter Real Estate had looked at several cities before opting to purchase the 400-acre property off of Durango Drive and the 215. The goal of the project is to bring more business and more new residents to the city.

The anchor to the development will be a 150,000 square foot office space with restaurants, retail, and 875 apartment units.

"Imagine this type of day: an employee comes in, has a yoga or spin class, then maybe a craft coffee, goes to the office, has a great brainstorm session, a business lunch at the artisan food hall, back to the office then has a social gathering, before walking home to your luxury apartment," van Betten said.

Already the developers are speaking to potential commercial residents although they wouldn't reveal the names of the firms.

The project will bring new residents to the city as well as a massive new selection of apartments to add to the Las Vegas inventory.

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