As you may know I have been very heavily involved in the Las Vegas real estate market for the last six years, both as a private investor and as a licensed real estate agent. As an agent specializing in undervalued properties, I have sold homes and condos to both owner occupants and investors at great discounts…before and after the bubble burst.
The current Las Vegas market represents one of the greatest buying opportunities that we have ever seen in real estate. Prices have over-corrected as a result of the credit crisis and have come down to levels that are way below builders’ costs. We are seeing condos selling at about $35-$45 per square foot and single family homes selling as low as $50 to $60 per square foot. From October of 2007 to May of 2009, the average median home price in Las Vegas fell approximately $10,000 per month…every month. As prices began to stabilize in the summer of 2009, investors realized that a bottom was arriving and began to flood back into the market. This past summer saw record sales volume in the Las Vegas valley. There were over 3700 closes in both June and July, 2009…beating even the previous monthly highs set in the summer of 2004, at the height of the bubble. Of these closings, 45% were cash deals and 40% were to investors (as opposed to owner occupants)…these numbers also exceed the percentages posted in 2004.
This extraordinary demand for great properties at great prices in Las Vegas caused the median home sale price to increase in September…the first increase in the Las Vegas market in over two years. September also saw sales taper off slightly. The general consensus, however, is that this decline is not because of a reduction in demand, but rather because of a drastic reduction in supply. In September only around 1800 homes were returned to bank ownership through the foreclosure process. In contrast, 3358 single family homes sold in this same month. Since almost 70% of all these sales were on foreclosure/REO properties, this represents a situation where more homes are being sold than are coming on to the market. The prices are low, the demand is high and, as a result, prices are starting to creep up on these REO sales. In addition, we are seeing multiple bid situations on almost every REO property that comes up for sale. These circumstances are making finding good deals by buying REO properties very difficult.
The most viable option at this time for acquiring properties below market value is at the trustee’s sale. Once the owner of a property passes his 90 day notice of default period, he is issued a notice of trustee’s sale. After the NOS, or notice of sale, is given, the owner has 21 days to cure the default or the property will be sold to the highest bidder at the trustee’s sale. Buyers at the trustee’s sale in Las Vegas are currently picking up properties for a discount of about 20% under the already heavily discounted REO listings that are setting current market values. For example: If a home sold in 2007 for $300,000, and it is now worth about $100,000 on the REO retail market, it may be picked up at the trustee’s sale for around $80,000. This would represent a buy price of approximately 25 cents on the dollar from the highs of just a few years ago.
I have spent the last several months working with a handful of investors and have made several purchases through the trustee’s sale. If you are interested in finding good properties at the best prices in the hottest foreclosure market we have ever seen (and may ever see) please give me a call or shoot me an email and I can go over the details with you. Buying at the trustee’s sale represents not only a great opportunity for the buy and hold investor to purchase properties for cash flow, but also represents the only viable opportunity for flip investors in Las Vegas to actually resell a property for a quick flip profit.