To short sale, or not to short sale? That is the question.

First – What is a short sale? Many people know, but not everyone.

When a person owes more on a property than it is worth, and they ask the bank to accept less than is owed on the property so that they can sell it, this is known as a short sale. Like when you owed your friend $50, but you only had $30 of it and you said, “sorry Mike, I’m a little short” and Mike said, “don’t worry about it”.

Why not buy short sales?

There are a variety of reasons why short sales do not go through. Here are 4;

1. The process of dealing with the banks on a short sale requires skill, effort and knowledge on the part of the listing agent (the person the seller hired to sell the house). Many do not possess this trifecta of assets.

2. There must be a hardship. Many sellers just want to sell short because their neighbor did, but their neighbor lost their job, or was never earning enough money to afford the home in the first place. Just because you want to, doesn’t mean you can.

3. If they buyer does have a legitimate hardship, then, that buyer, who is already (typically) despondent over their current financial situation, is required by the bank to go through their finances with a fine tooth comb to prove that hardship. Many people just don’t have the stomach for it.

4. Patience (or lack thereof). Short sales often take a very long time to get accepted. I’ve seen them take more than 4 months just to get approved. Many buyers just aren’t that patient.

In the month of April, 2009 in Las Vegas, 36% of the properties listed for sale were short sales. Only 6% of the closings were. This shows that short sales can work, but often (1 in 6 times that month) they don’t.

The prices on Las Vegas bank owned homes are mind-boggling.  Don’t wait for the bottom.  You can’t predict it.  You won’t know where the bottom was until it’s gone.  Really.  What are you waiting for?  If you would like information about buying a home to live in or an investment property in Las Vegas, with no cost or obligation, please contact me.

702-369-6000
or toll free @
1-877-7RE-JEFF
(1-877-773-5333)

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The Oxymoron in Las Vegas

I have heard that opposites attract, but how do you have multiple offers being presented on multiple properties in a buyer’s market?  Does that make it a seller’s market?  Or is it a seller’s-buyer’s market (like the color violet-blue, it’s kind of violet, but definitely blue)?  Or is it just that the prices have gotten so low, that none of the conventional reasoning applies?

I saw a house yesterday, in move-in condition listed for $26 per square foot!  Granted it was an older home that needed updating, and it was in a so-so neighborhood, but $26 per square foot?  By the way, it was listed for $26 per square foot, and the offers were multiple.  It sold for more.

I showed a home to a woman yesterday that was built in 2000 and was listed for $84 per square foot.  It was overall in good shape, but needed paint, carpet and some other minor cosmetics.  She really liked it.  This morning I learned that it already had 9 offers on it.  When I did a price comparison, I saw why.  It was priced too low, even for this market.  The banks are starting to intentionally under price properties so that they sell more quickly.

I had another client look at a home on Saturday that the bank had made real nice.  New carpet, fresh paint, a new sealed-burner gas stove and a matching dishwasher.  They had pulled it off the market while cleaning it up and then RAISED the price.  We joked that they should have put a refrigerator in if they really wanted to sell it.  Pricing is down to 1997 levels, and interest is high, especially in the under $300,000 range.

I’m not suggesting that the problems are solved. I was also on a street Saturday with about 15 houses and 5 were vacant, but the market is shifting again here. The question is, where is it going next? We still have a lot of inventory, so it’s not necessarily going up, but the dynamic is definitely changing.  Some banks are holding their ground a little more.  Sometimes they are squeezing the buyer, and that is not how a buyer’s market usually works.  The big key, is that while interest rates are low, you can buy a nice property for significantly less that you could buy the materials to build it and some of the banks are getting more and more competitive, creating all kinds of mixed market signals.  You could buy a lot of Las Vegas homes right now for about $500 per month.  Most renting Las Vegans are paying more than that.

The prices on Las Vegas real estate are just outstanding. Don’t wait for the bottom.  You can’t predict it.  You won’t know where the bottom was until it’s gone.  Really.  What are you waiting for?  If you would like information about buying a home to live in or an investment property in Las Vegas, with no cost or obligation, please contact me.

702-369-6000
or toll free @
1-877-7RE-JEFF
(1-877-773-5333)

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Did Archimedes understand real estate?

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum strong enough I can move the earth.”  Archimedes said this hundreds of years ago, yet some people are afraid of using ANY leverage in this real estate market.  I have investors contacting me with $100,000 in cash and they want to buy $100,000 worth of real estate in Las Vegas because they don’t want to end up over leveraged.  I understand.  A large part of the reason we are in this mess is that we got overleveraged.  But some leverage is always good.

Let’s first look at values.  There are plenty of homes in great neighborhoods listed for $70 per square foot.  There are certainly a few listed lower like the one that came on the market today built in 2005 and in move in condition for $50/ sf (call me if you want to buy it).  So you buy a 3 bedroom / 2 bathroom rental for $100,000.  You have the money to pay cash and you don’t want to over leverage yourself. You collect about $900 per month in rent. OK, great!

BUT what if you decided to put down 50%, and buy 2 of them?  First of all, you should have no trouble getting the loans.  Second off, your monthly mortgage payment on EACH property is only about $315 per month (with moderate credit)!

Now are you SURE you don’t want to use at least a little leverage? C’mon! I’m not suggesting that you abandon your beliefs altogether or become irresponsible with your money, but that is reasonably safe, wouldn’t you say?

The prices on Las Vegas real estate are ridiculously low.  Don’t wait for the bottom to start investing here.  You won’t know where the bottom was until it’s gone.  Really.  What are you waiting for?  If you would like information, with no cost or obligation, please contact me.
702-369-6000
or toll free @
1-877-7RE-JEFF
(1-877-773-5333)

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Is this the perfect storm?

My new partner has been a realtor in Las Vegas for over 15 years. He has never seen this many homes in escrow (or even close).  Right now there are almost 10,000 homes in Las Vegas under contract.  That’s crazy! Or is it? Right now we have 5 things happening in Las Vegas at the same time that are causing all of this demand for properties under $300,000 here.

1. The months from March through June are historically the best 4 months for real estate sales in Las Vegas.

2. Interest rates are at historical lows. 30 year fixed rates are under 5%

3. The $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit is causing people to believe that they can’t afford not to buy their first home right now.

4. The media is finally telling people that it is time to buy. Sunday’s Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper had an article called “Why houses look better and better” and that is just one such article of many across the nation.

5. The median price is down to $135,000 in Las Vegas.

So, is it the perfect storm? Well it is certainly having those types of results.  Right now in Las Vegas approximately 75% of the houses being sold are selling for full asking price or HIGHER.  Properties are hitting the market and being fought over by investors and would-be home buyers alike. Is it because there is a shortage of properties?  No, it’s because the banks are really desperate to unload these properties so they are pricing them below what the drastically reduced market sees as reasonable. 

The game is tricky though, and you need to be careful. For example, I know a condo complex where you can buy a 1 bedroom condo near the air force base for about $30K! The problem is that there are so many of them available, it still might not be a good investment. But if you are looking to live there, on an FHA first time home buyer loan, your principal and interest payment is going to be less than $150 per month!

Less than $150 per month!

Less than $150 per month!

Less than $150 per month!

Are you ready to get serious about buying Las Vegas real estate?  What are you waiting for?  If you would like help buying real estate in Las Vegas, whether for your personal use, or for investment, please call me.
702-369-6000

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Even the Mansions in Las Vegas are cheap now!

OK, I haven’t been here lately. I’ve been very busy. Lousy excuse, I know.

Here is how crazy pricing has gotten on Las Vegas Real Estate. Just a few hours ago, I was in a gated community in the south part of Las Vegas, in a mansion that was more than 6500 square feet of luxury and decadence. The master bedroom closet was bigger than many bedrooms and even had a refrigerator in it like in the new Heineken commercial. 5 bedrooms, 4 1/2 bathrooms, 3 living rooms, 4 car garage, 2 laundry rooms, expensive tile and stone everywhere, circular staircases – you get the picture. I can’t believe you could build this house for less than $200-$250 per square foot (and I’m sure that’s low). Now it did have some maintenance issues, but basically it was in good shape. Probably less than $20K in repairs needed.

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

You’re not going to believe it.

I didn’t believe it when I saw it on the MLS.

I had to go see it with my own eyes.

$71 per square foot. The bank is selling this house for less than $500,000. It JUST hit the market.

Are you ready to begin investing in Las Vegas real estate?  Now is the time.  Really.  What are you waiting for?  If you would like help buying real estate in Las Vegas, whether for your personal use, or for investment, please contact me.

www.CapeCodAREI.com/contact
702-369-6000

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Las Vegas home prices stabilizing?

I just became aware of some very interesting statistics about the Las Vegas housing market.  First I want to make sure you understand that the information in this particular post only pertains to Single Family Homes (SFR’s) and does not include Condo’s, Town Homes, multi-family or any other Las Vegas real estate.

For the first time in over 2 years, prices have been stable; for 9 straight weeks $180,000 is the median price and holding; even better, the supply of homes has decreased and demand for homes under $300,000 has increased. The local real estate market is behaving somewhat normally. 9 weeks ago we had 101 days supply available, now we have 66 days of supply and the number of properties going under contract are up.

What does this mean?  Are we out of the woods?  I seriously doubt it, but these are good indicators that good things are starting to happen.  I will tell you that this past weekend, as my good friend was driving back to Las Vegas from Los Angeles, he said that the traffic going towards L.A. was horrible – then he corrected himself and said that he would not have wanted to be driving in that traffic, but that it was good for Las Vegas.

It’s true that we still have problems here, but these are good things.  Are you ready to begin investing in Las Vegas real estate?  Now is the time.  Really.  What are you waiting for?  If you would like help buying real estate in Las Vegas, whether for your personal use, or for investment, please contact me.
www.MyFastEasySale.com

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New Real Estate Contract Guidelines?

I have probably written over 200 real estate contracts. I have had 35-40 offers accepted, and entered the due diligence phase on those.  I have closed on the purchase of 25 properties now.  There is one item that has been a hassle for me on 3 different occasions.  Getting my earnest money back.

First, in case you are not aware, let me explain some important elements to understand about escrow.  Usually, the seller gets to decide who will hold the earnest money in escrow. This never concerns me because the fiduciary duties of the escrow agent are clear. They must remain impartial and only do as instructed by both parties. The reason this is key, is that if the sale does not go through for any reason, the escrow agent will not release the money to one party without the other party’s permission. If there is a dispute, it is not for the escrow agent to preside over the dispute. In some states, the escrow is held by attorneys, in others, like Nevada, it is held by a Title Company. 

So on 3 different occasions as a buyer, I have had a seller try to ‘strong arm’ me into giving them some of my earnest money when I did not buy. As near as I can figure, they determined that it would cost me a certain amount of legal fees to prove that I had done no harm, and not been in breach of the contract. So, if I just give them an amount of money less than that, I come out ahead. 

I read somewhere recently that the United States has 20% of the worlds population, and 80% of the worlds civil lawsuits. This is a large part of the reason why. People want money that they are not entitled to. And so contracts get longer, and longer, and longer.

The first time this happened, was over a pretty small amount of earnest money ($2,500) and the seller eventually gave in and signed the agreement. I believe their realtor may have convinced them to. 

The second time, the earnest money was $10,000 and the purchase was in another state (Tennessee) and we eventually decided to give them $2,000 – not because we were wrong, but because it was going to cost us at least that much to fight them.  I call that extortion.  You call it what you want.  It happens often in our legal system. Someone files a lawsuit that has no real basis, and the defendant pays them some amount of money without admitting guilt – because it’s cheaper.  The media will always paint this settlement as an admission of guilt.  It’s just sad.

I’m currently involved in another scenario, where after I cancelled the contract, the seller said to me, “You have cost us time on the market. How much of the $6,000 earnest money are you willing to give us?” The answer was “none”. Again, we were within our rights to cancel, but they want to strong arm us. Now we are getting a lawyer. At some point, even though it costs more, you fight them, on principal. The bummer is, that we could technically spend more than $6,000 to get our money back if this goes to trial, but we don’t want them to have any of it, because it is just wrong.

So what can be done about this?  My Real Estate contracts are about to get longer.  When I am the buyer, the first thing I will do is insist that during the due diligence phase, the escrow release has to be single signature – MINE.  This means that if I cancel the contract for any reason during that time period, I get my earnest money back; no questions asked.

After the due diligence phase is over, if there is a dispute, the contract will require binding arbitration.  That way if they try to strong arm me, I have a less expensive option in front of me. Then I will stipulate that the prevailing party shall be reimbursed for costs and fees associated with attempting to resolve the dispute.

A friend of mine who is a business consultant says that he is amazed that this is not part of every real estate contract already. In all of the ones I have seen, I don’t even recall seeing it. Maybe it has been in plenty of them, but not in those 3.

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