Latest Update — MGM Signature Towers

It has been a little over three months since my last update on the MGM Signature Condos and I wanted to update my readers on the new developments that have been taking place. Those of you who are on my mailing list will have received a spread sheet I produced that details the profitability of a studio unit purchased recently for $150,000. This same unit was selling for $465,000 at its high three years ago. The spreadsheet shows that purchasing the studio unit for $150K, or roughly 32 cents on the dollar, would result in positive cash flow for the new owner.

In crunching the numbers on the MGM Condos, I have come across an interesting anomaly that I would like to share with you: The one bedroom units that are placed into the rental program have historically generated lower occupancy rates than the studios. Yet they cost about twice as much (the new lowest 1 bed sale has been $185,000), the HOA fees are nearly twice as high ($1000 vs. $500 for the studio), and they only rent for about $40 more per night. Potential investors should keep this in mind when considering studios vs. one bedroom units at the MGM Signature Towers. The one bedroom units are getting close to being a good deal for a buyer that is thinking of either living in it, renting it outside of the MGM rental program, or just holding it as a second home. But the one bedrooms are not as attractive as the studios from a pure investment perspective.

So far, the six lowest price studio sales in the entire project have been transactions that I have been able to negotiate for my clients. I was recently able to broker a deal in which one of my investors purchased a bulk bundle of four studio units at what amounted to $118,000 each. The Mountain View studio units are selling for the $120K-140K range and the strip view studios are now selling in the $140K to $180K range. The higher range would include the studios with a patio. The unit I discussed in the first paragraph that originally comped for $465K and recently sold for $150K, was a higher floor studio with a strip view and also a patio.

The inventory remains very light at this time. Currently, there are only 9 bank-owned foreclosures available in the MGM Signature Condos. 8 of them are studio units and one is a one bedroom condo. There are still quite a few short sales in various stages, but we are beginning to see a lot of short sales reverting back to the bank and becoming foreclosures as the short sale process is very slow and agents and banks are often unable to get them approved before the foreclosure happens.

Because of the light inventory of REOs and the difficulty in successfully negotiating short sales, I am beginning to look at the Trustees Sale in order to purchase affordable MGM Signature units for my investors. We are starting to see many studio units being sold at the Trustee Sale for around $120,000. MGM Signature Condos continue to be a great investment opportunity for those looking to acquire properties and utilize a buy and hold strategy. However, the really good news is that if you are looking to buy and flip, there is the opportunity to make $20,000-$50,000 per condo in a two month period through purchasing MGM Signature units at the Trustees Sale. If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact me for more details.

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Update on MGM Signature Towers

The last time I reported on the MGM Signature Towers was in late April when new low comps were established for both Studio and 1 Bedroom units at the close of the MGM auction. I wanted to take a moment to update my readers as prices continue to drop on these properties here in Las Vegas.

I have been following the MGM Signature Towers project since its inception in 2003 and 2004 and have stayed as far away as possible until recently as purchasing made no sense from a cash flow perspective. But as you know, things change quickly in Las Vegas and this investment is beginning to look a lot more lucrative. I will explain.

If you are unfamiliar with the hotel condo concept, it is quite simply explained as follows: You the investor buy and own the actual condo with all of its luxury furnishings, and the condo is put into a rental program and managed by a management company (in this case as part of the MGM Hotel and Casino). There are a lot of calculations that lead to how much revenue owners will make (or not make) from their condo hotel but a reasonably accurate estimate in the case of the Signature Towers would call for the owner to end up with about 40% of the gross revenues from the rental of the room. In simple math, if a condo hotel room is rented for $100 per night, the owner will net about $40.

Of course there are some perks to ownership of the unit as the owner can use it themselves (with a reservation) or the room does not have to be in the rental program at all. If someone wished to live in their luxury condo unit they could choose to do so. The home owner’s association fees are quite high, at near $400 for the studio unit and $900 for the one bedroom unit. These fees pay for the luxury resort amenities which are separate from, yet still attached to, the MGM Hotel. The Signature Towers resort features two exercise rooms, valet parking, guest services, coffee shop, lounge, deli, several pools, high speed internet service throughout and a gift shop.

The hotel condo project was sold in three stages with tower 1 (145 East Harmon) completed in 2005. This building is closest to the MGM hotel and was the first building of the three to be finished. Units in this building sold for between $300,000 to $600,000 for the smaller studio units (520 square feet) and $500,000 to $1,000,000 for the 1 bedroom units. The second tower was the 135 East Harmon tower which was completed in 2006. Studio units sold for a little higher, in the $400,000 to $700,000 range, and 1 bedroom units remained the same at $500,000 to $1,000,000. The last tower to be built, 125 East Harmon, sold for even higher prices. It was completed in 2006 with studio units selling for $500,000 to $800,000 and 1 bedroom units fetching prices from $700,000 to over $1 million.

Note that because tower one was sold at lower prices there have been less foreclosures coming on the market from this tower (145). As investors grossly overpaid for units in all buildings, but especially buildings two and three, we are now seeing a high rate of foreclosures begin to hit the market. I believe that as early investors begin to see how far upside down they are we may see even more people letting their units go as their equity or perceived equity is non-existent.

Over the last year there have been 92 re-sales as a combined total from all three buildings. As of April 2009 the lowest priced 1 bedroom unit had sold for $274,000 and the lowest priced studio unit had sold for $174,000. This was, of course, well below the original sales prices of just a few years earlier. Then in late April of this year, an auction took place at the MGM and 20 units were sold off in about 2 hours time. I reported on this auction in my blog as a new low of $202,000 for one bedrooms and $160,000 for studios were established.
It was about this time that I stepped in and began to educate my database of investors about these units as I could see that the prices were beginning to move closer to the point where they could hit bottom and actually begin to make sense as an investment for those looking to keep them in the rental program.

When looking at units from these high rise towers, each investor will want to be concerned with the price of the unit, its “rentability” potential, the profitability of the investment, and the future appreciation potential of the property.

I have identified 7 items that have a direct effect on these factors. These 7 items include the following:

1. Odd/Even address numbers: Odd = strip side views and Even = mountain views.
2. One bedroom unit (874 or 847 sq. ft) or studio unit (520 square feet)?
3. Handicapped unit or regular unit?
4. Does the unit have a balcony or not?
5. Is the unit located on a high floor or a low floor?
6. How is the View (strip/mountain/airport/pool)?
7. Is it a penthouse floor (29 to 33)? (Comes with a higher ceiling.)

Since April I have been working with several investors and fighting to get the lowest price possible for them on the units they are looking to take down. All this hard work paid o this past Friday the 17th as one of my investors closed on a lower oor studio unit at only $99,000. This new low blew away the previous low comp of $140,000 for a studio from only a couple of months back.

The very next day, Saturday July 18th, I attended the second auction for the MGM Signature Towers with cashiers check in hand ready to pounce on a 1 bedroom unit for another client. And as I predicted, a new low was achieved when the 1 bedroom sold at auction for $180,000 ($22,000 less than the previous low). The unit was in tower 1 ( first building), 7th floor, with a balcony and a nice pool view on the mountain side (even number). The unit sold originally for $540,000 and made for a nice deal at 33 cents on the dollar from the original high. This lower comp should help motivate the banks to continue pushing prices down into a range that will produce more investors traffic as people look to scarf up these luxurious condo hotels.

As of this writing, there are 155 units listed for sale in the entire MGM Signature Towers project. There are only 22 that are REO/bank owned foreclosures and 68 short sales. The remaining 65 units listed for sale are upside down owners who will not be able to resell their units at their asking prices for many, many years.

Anyone seriously interested in taking down a unit at today’s new lower prices should contact me as soon as possible as inventory is very light at this time. I am not sure how low the prices will go but I truly believe a studio at $100k and a one bedroom unit at $150k are very good deals.

This Friday the 24th of July there will be a third (silent) auction that will be taking place on 10 units at the MGM Signature Towers. You must be registered in advance in order to bid online. The highest bidder’s o er will be presented to the bank. If the bank accepts the bid, you will get the condo at your winning bid price. If the minimum (unpublished reserve bid) is not met, the deal will be renegotiated or you can walk away. There is no earnest money required for the silent auction. Call or email me for details to register.

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