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Las Vegas and Beatles - 06/30/07 06:43 PM
Those two names are appearing together a lot nowadays here in Southern Nevada. And why not. They both give you the upbeat feeling that there is exceptional entertainment involved. The first one offers a whole array of the good time, in many shapes and forms, for all sorts of wallet sizes, morning, day, afternoon and night. The latter has it with music, with the good old rock and roll from a few moons ago. It can still hold its own no matter who you throw against it. Simply, it doesn't get any better than that. Just this week the Mirage celebrated (8 comments)
It's encouraging to see that Washington is taking steps, still kind of small but steps anyway, to fund research on how to increase efficiency in our houses. The home building industry is already spending money on it and now the federal government is joining in. The two-prong approach will add more muscle to the effort and ultimately benefit everyone. The U.S. Department of Energy just announced that it'll have up to $40 million available to support research, development and deployment of technologies that will eventually cut new home energy consumption by 30-90%. What exactly is the research zeroing in on? The goal is (4 comments)
It is if you look at the report that the National Association of Home Builders, or NAHB, and Wells Fargo just published. The study took into account the median family income and the median sales price of a sample metro area during the first quarter of 2007 and then arrived at an affordability index. According to its findings, Las Vegas ranks 186 with only 18.9% of households able to purchase a median-priced home. That is a worrisome number. I don't know what the index was before the residential real estate boom started early this decade, but it must've been much higher than the above (0 comments)
Maybe that's the medicine we need here. Lower real estate prices, that is. Well, I understand, no one wants to see his house value drop, and that includes me. The equity you were counting on could be 5% less in a matter of months. Or 10% less. Or even more than that. Anyway, the market here is still reeling and the sooner we get to the bottom of it, the sooner it can settle down and then return to normal again. Right now we are in a wait mode that serves no purpose. According to a local analyst Dennis Smith, in May the (1 comments)
Summerlin has been famous for years for being one of the top-selling master-planned housing communities in the nation. Which has partly helped Las Vegas carve a favorable niche for itself as a livable city. Besides that, it has top finishes on other lists, too. It was the first local developer to introduce extensive desert landscaping in its common areas and it did something in 2003 that was thought unthinkable only a few years ago, namely doing away with lawns in front of new homes. Summerlin has earned the image of blazing the way to innovative and somewhat untested solutions. Now Summerlin is at it again. It is selling 300 (4 comments)
That's the wording on one of the more famous signs on the entire planet of ours. This star sits just south of Mandalay Bay in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard South, or like many call it casually the Strip. It was designed in 1959, certainly a few moons ago, by Betty Willis who still resides in town. In those days her skills at neon design were supposed to convince Californians to come back and do a little gambling and from what I know, the sign has done its job real well. So driving north towards town you would read Welcome to Fabulous (0 comments)
The residential real estate market in the last year or two has been rather trying for new home builders in just about all regions of the country. Some areas have weathered the storm a little better than others, but overall the market is in a slump. Even though they have dutifully cut back on the supply, demand for their product has languished below the supply level and thus led to the weakened state they're in now. Let's look at two notable developments associated with this shift. In 2006 the 100 largest builders managed to increase their market share to 44%, from 37% in 2005. This despite the (2 comments)
Mortgage foreclosure rescue scams - 06/23/07 08:34 PM
It was only a matter of time before the news started surfacing about unsavory operations preying on foreclosure victims. That business is now in full swing across the land. As the housing troubles deepen, the legitimate, mostly non-profit, companies are forced to compete with the scam artists for the ear of the homeowner in distress. The one who is the most convincing gets to help, or to rip off. The scammer's plan has one basic aim, get his hands on the homeowner's equity. To pull that off, his first job is to find a house against which a mortgage lender has filed a notice of trustee (7 comments)
The Southern Nevada real estate market continues to struggle. In its latest report the Home Builders Research, a Las Vegas firm, registers 1,724 new-home permits in May, putting the year-to-date total at 7,934 that in turn tells us that there is a 34% decline in the figure from the same time last year. A considerable drop, I must admit. What's surprising is that even though local builders are offering incentives in all shapes and sizes, the sales still remain sluggish. Industry analysts are now saying that the new-home permits are likely to stay flat for this and most of next year, (0 comments)
Hoover Dam has carved a name for itself for places to see when in Las Vegas. A visit there is well worth it. It was made possible by the Colorado River that gets its start high in the Rockies and after a 1,400-mile twisting run winds up at the Gulf of California. The river was erratic in its natural state, causing flooding in the early summer from snowmelt and then later in the year it would almost dry up. So, a decision was made to control it by dams, most famous of which is the Hoover Dam just a stone's throw outside Sin (2 comments)
FICO to purge scoring scam - 06/21/07 11:22 PM
If your FICO score comes in too low you can go online and look up a specialty company there that will help you boost it by up to 300 points. Go from, say, 500 to 750 in a matter of weeks. That improvement will make a large difference when you apply for a mortgage, not only putting you in a position to get a home loan in the first place, but also making you eligible for a lower rate and possibly fewer fees. How is that doable, you might ask? Here's how it works. These specialty Internet companies recruit credit card holders with excellent payment backgrounds to (8 comments)
Mortgage refinance is an everyday term. Many homeowners are familiar with it and have probably done one of them during their lifetime. But what is a trigger lead and what does it have to do with a refinance? Or any home finance. Let's take a closer look. This is what happens. When you inquire about, say, a refinance, the mortgage broker will pull your credit report and that action in itself indicates that you're on the market for a loan. The credit bureaus, there are three of them, quickly convert your contact information into a lead and sell it on the open (3 comments)
The media has been on the story for months now that the Southern Nevada real estate market is soft. The statistics from GLVAR and local research firms are backing that claim up. That is the truth. We in the industry know it, too. In short, it's fundamental economics, meaning too much supply and not enough demand. A new study, yes indeed another one, was just published yesterday and its findings make you look for a place to hide if you live in Vegas and own residential property. The PMI U.S. Market Risk index forecasts that our home values have a higher than (0 comments)
It's a well-known fact that appraising is an art, not an exact science. Most appraisers are very good at what they do. And thorough. They are licensed, they belong to a trade association, they attend refresher courses and they make sure that their results are accurate. However, mistakes are sometimes made and your number comes in low and you don't like it. There are a couple of ways you can approach the injustice. Go ahead and ask for a second opinion. What has become more and more popular lately is the AVM, or an Automated Valuation Model. It's nothing more than a computer program (17 comments)
It's a well-known fact that the high-rise, luxury condos on or near the Strip get most of the attention in the valley. They are typically developed by marquee names that by themselves garner media coverage even if they don't really try. Turnberry Place, Trump International Hotel and Tower, MGM Mirage's CityCenter, these are some of the names many of us are familiar with. Las Vegas downtown is still suffering from a less than glowing reputation. But that is about to change. The city is working rather hard through many types of incentives to bring in fresh blood. One segment it has targeted (4 comments)
The rate actually went up so much in the first quarter that Nevada, unfortunately, managed to top all other states for the dubious honor. The number of home loans in foreclosure grew 0.32% to reach a total of 1.16% of all mortgages in the state, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The other high-ranking states are Arizona, California and Florida. What's intriguing about the results is that if these four states are left out of the report, the statistics for entire nation would've shown a decline. These four were invaded by real estate speculators a few years ago and now that the (4 comments)
We all have our preferences when it comes to deciding what criteria to use when we relocate. Nevertheless, I'd guess that the list typically is rather short. Mine used to be. Traditional variables have been the area's cost of living, education, crime and of course climate, and maybe to a lesser degree the city's medical care, cultural scene and diversity. Something along these lines. Another best-cities-to-live-in ranking was just published by Primacy Relocation and Worldwide ERC, an association for workforce mobility, that worked together with Sperling's BestPlaces to get it done. This time the annual study took a much more detailed look at the local real estate market (8 comments)
The Federal Reserve Board, or what many just call the Fed, has the rule-making authority under HOEPA, Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act, to look into and amend national mortgage lending practices. It's a big responsibility and now it is conducting hearings on how to adjust some of the current procedures that led to the subprime mess. It has invited members from all interest groups to attend the meetings in Washington and offer their views on how to proceed. The hearings are focusing on four main areas. One of them is the borrower's ability to repay the mortgage. I don't know what (7 comments)
Where is the real estate recovery in Las Vegas? - 06/13/07 05:37 PM
I certainly can't find it anywhere no matter how many rocks I turn over. The stats that have come out lately haven't given much encouragement, but you tend to remain optimistic and try find some light in the famous tunnel. Last fall things were pretty bleak here when the MLS inventory hit over 24,000 listings in October. Then the winter months started to whittle down that number and it fell to somewhere above 19,000 and hopes were slowly beginning to stir. Fingers were crossed in mortgage, real estate and other related offices. The spring might be better, the summer for sure. Not much better, but an (5 comments)
Vegas has seen a few memorable personalities come in and usually invest in the gaming industry and make a permanent mark on the city. Bugsy Siegel got the Flamingo going way back when, Howard Hughes used to hide on the top floor of the Desert Inn and buy casinos and land, most of which is now called Summerlin, Kirk Kerkorian originally developed the Las Vegas Hilton and is still very much involved. How about Steve Wynn? He's credited with starting the mega resort era with the Mirage. Sheldon Adelson built the Venetian that is closely tied in with the booming convention business. These names come (0 comments)
All sorts of people were getting into rental real estate four-five years ago, at least here in Las Vegas. That was when the market was on a rocket ride up. It was of minor concern to many that their knowledge base on the overall market was rather slim. Now they are paying for it because they failed to do their homework. How to secure an investor mortgage, what does it take to be a landlord, where to purchase the house or condo, how the market can shift? These are some of the questions that should be answered more than casually before getting seriously involved. (0 comments)
Some of the products that were recognized by BuildingGreen, Inc. a few months ago at the U.S. Green Building Council's conference are amazing. I'm just thinking how much time was spent first in discussions alone whether a concept is worth exploring in a serious way. After that dialogue these scientists and engineers and others probably had to draft the idea on paper, then get it approved by the corner office and finally put it physically together. At least its prototype. And then comes the really hard part. Make it work, make it viable. Test it and tweak it and test it some more. Let's see which products have passed (2 comments)
An HOA can be a reason to rejoice in Las Vegas. That happens when it's run by competent people who understand the issues that they are faced with and can make realistic decisions on how to solve them. It's good for the entire community and the real estate values in it. Or it can be a nightmare. An HOA committee official can get the wrong idea about what he's supposed to do and assume the role of a dictator. This happens all too often. The power of a given position simply goes in the person's head and residents will sooner or later see and feel the anger. Nevada (3 comments)
Your only chance for a shot at an ultimate payday by playing golf was if you participated in the Ultimate Game tournament that concluded yesterday here in Las Vegas. It took place over two days at the Wynn Golf & Country Club, right there on the Strip. Okay, let's get to the size of the purse. It was a cool $2 million and a winner-take-all type of a deal. I guess that's why it's called the Ultimate Game. The Players Championship, the next highest purse in golf, pales in comparison with $1.44 million. Many of you may have been unaware of this tournament and the reason is (2 comments)
Lately there have been signs that the real estate market is about to turn the corner and start heading up again. Although that has been mostly on the national level, economic fundamentals here in Las Vegas still look good, too, except for the residential construction sector. For a solid housing recovery, we appear to have some distance to cover yet. The May statistics from GLVAR, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, are in and the single-family homes listed for sale category is actually getting worse. The number now is 23,042, just short of the all time high of 23,474 recorded in October (0 comments)
Lenders to the rescue - 06/07/07 09:34 PM
The present housing downturn has plunged the subprime lending sector into a less than desirable situation. The soft market is hurting some borrowers who bought late in the boom days with exotic mortgage products and now can't make the payments when the loan rates a resetting. But it also is threatening several financial institutions because a wave of foreclosures can become too much to overcome. So, lenders are facing the good old bottom line pressure, but also political pressure from Washington to assist in holding back the foreclosure threat. The lending industry is stepping up efforts to provide relief. Fannie Mae, a leading player in the (4 comments)
If you are one of the lucky ones who happens to inherit a vacation house with your siblings, it can turn out to be a traumatic experience. Sharing a place like that peacefully seems at times very difficult to do. Disagreements can flare up from a tiny issue like what to do about a bird nesting under the lakeside cottage's eaves to a larger one like who gets to visit the Las Vegas condominium on the next holiday weekend. But it doesn't have to be like that. The sharing can be made workable, and enjoyable, with some advance planning. The original owners, usually the (8 comments)
It's old news that the real estate market is soft in most regions of the country and this applies to both the new home and resale arenas. They're definitely feeling the pain. Home builders have used all sorts of incentives to sell property, from mortgage buy-downs to appliance packages and what not. But inventories are still high, so they have again decided to revert to model home merchandising. What they are trying to do with that is create house lust. In other words, decorate the model home so well that it just sells. Or actually only sprucing up certain key rooms that supposedly will (2 comments)
The discussion about subprime loans and foreclosures is going to stay with us for some time to come. I guess it makes good headline material. A research firm has just concluded a comprehensive study that estimates how many subprime loans are going to end up in foreclosure in the next several years. Let's look at some of their findings. If you signed up for an ARM, an adjustable rate mortgage, between 2004 and 2006 that came with an initial teaser rate of under 4%, you have a 1-in-3 probability of going into foreclosure. On the other hand, if your interest rate was above (0 comments)
They might be. The numbers for the nation as a whole that we have seen in the last several months point down, though. Some areas are harder hit than others and some have just leveled off and are holding on, like Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. A few pockets are still robust, thank heavens, and have seen value increases. For the most part, however, the real estate news have been dismal, an indication of a soft market. Enter OFHEO, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, and you're treated to a rosier picture than before. To its credit it has kept an eye on (2 comments)
Andre Agassi is a household name to most of us because he played tennis real well. In fact, the Las Vegas native was so good in his heyday that he conquered several major championships during his long and colorful career. But Andre is famous for something else, too. And it's far from being athletically skillful and competent. He's behind an organization that benefits kids. Team Agassi is part of the Andre Agassi Boys & Girls Club tennis program. It's aim is to get kids at-risk off the streets in the neighborhood and onto the tennis courts and then emphasize the value of academics. In (1 comments)
We all know what a nightclub is, but what in the world is a dayclub. A nightclub during the day? Well, kind of close. Since Webster's probably hasn't officially sanctioned the word dayclub yet, Vegas resorts are doing their best to define it for the big fat book with thin pages. To begin with, it's a resort swimming pool that allows European-style bathing. European-style has another name and that's topless. But it's more than that. Much more. It can feature a disc jockey, cabanas where patrons can play video games on flat-screen televisions, massage services and daybeds with bottle service. In other words, (3 comments)
It's still early in the cycle, but there are some signs that the subprime market might be on the mend. Congress, federal regulators and consumer groups are all poking around the business practices of this troubled mortgage market segment, trying hard to pinpoint where exactly the real problems are. But it's taking a while because it's very complicated. In the meantime, the world of business moves on, doing what needs to be done. Today it was announced that a private equity firm is going to acquire Accredited Home Lenders, a besieged subprime lender out of San Diego. Many fellow lenders in the industry (10 comments)
Washington continues to work on finding a sensible solution to the subprime turmoil. It's taking a while because the situation really is tangled and the easy answers just aren't available. There are so many participants in the subprime market that to legislate smartly from here on out takes a deft hand. The sector is still important to the mortgage and real estate industries, and for the entire economy for that matter, that you don't want to shake it too hard. But some adjustments are needed to correct the past practices that led to this slippery slope. Congress has already looked at the (7 comments)
Vegas Golf magazine is at it again. What it does is give annual awards to Las Vegas golf clubs in many appropriate categories and the much anticipated results for 2006 are in. As to the selection criteria, it does take into account player comments and then mixes them with a classified algorithm. I really don't know how scientific that is, but based on what I myself know about local tracks, their findings seem to accurately measure club competency. The Fairway Award for the Best Player Services goes this time to Tuscany Golf Club. According to club management they deserve it because they (2 comments)
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