These home buyers are running an opportunity in Las Vegas

When IKE PYUN bought its new Las Vegas home last December, it checked all the boxes on its wish list: it was in a safe gated community with lots of young families and had a number of parks nearby for his son to grow up playing , and there was more room for him and his wife, Kelsey Pyun, to both work from home. It was close to the Strip too, with easy parking and great meeting opportunities.

The kicker: The monthly mortgage payment was half the rent he’d paid in Los Angeles.

Ike and Kelsey Pyun bought a new home in Las Vegas in December and moved there from Los Angeles.

Saeed Rahbaran for the Wall Street Journal

Ike and Kelsey Pyun’s home is in a safe gated community with lots of young families and lots of parks nearby for their son to playfully grow up in.

Saeed Rahbaran for the Wall Street Journal

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“The contrast was shocking,” says the 41-year-old investor and entrepreneur. He and his wife, a real estate agent, paid $ 615,000 for a four-bedroom, four-bathroom home on the edge of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Las Vegas has a different moment. This town of around 650,000 people was built by gangsters known for their shabby side. It covers an area of ​​135 square kilometers and includes a number of small, older neighborhoods near the city center as well as large, master-planned residential complexes with parks and shops on the outskirts around golf courses and artificial lakes. Located in the middle of the Nevada desert, the city was a face of the 2008 real estate crisis, with entire neighborhoods of empty, isolated houses. Now Sin City has the highest percentage of page views on Zillow from shoppers outside of a major city. Average home prices were up 12.3% year over year in February, according to Las Vegas Realtors. This made the city the most overrated major metropolitan area in the country in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a ranking by rating agency Fitch Ratings.

Amid all of the problems the pandemic has created in the local economy, luxury real estate is a ray of hope for Las Vegas. The number of homes over $ 1 million sold in 2020 was 45% higher than in 2019. Additionally, the downtown revitalization that began with the Arts District continued with the opening of a new resort and Casinos continued in October First built in the city center since 1980. Developers have around 100 properties in their sights, including vacant lots, motels, commercial buildings and apartments recently launched on the property of the late Zappos founder Tony Hseih. Hseih was a major player in Las Vegas real estate and a major developer, investor, and booster in the city.

The McNeil Estates neighborhood near downtown Las Vegas.

Children play in Paseos Park in the Summerlin Community.

A book swap box in McNeil Estates.

A lake next to a golf course in a neighborhood called the Red Rock Country Club.

Saeed Rahbaran for the Wall Street Journal (4)

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Las Vegas real estate agents say many of their clients are dual income families, and a high percentage are from California. While the city has long been popular with people of Southern California, the new is new about people who live in the Bay Area, says Michael McGraw of Elite Realty. Mr. McGraw says they tend to want guarded, closed communities along with zero state income tax in Nevada.

“The younger crowd finds its way here,” says Harvey Tadmor, a realtor at Real Simple Real Estate. The city’s business and urban development department began running digital marketing ads in the Bay Area and Seattle in November, tweeting, “Tell your friends, if they work remotely, they should move here: 300+ days of sunshine, professional sports, none Income taxes, first class hospitality and food. ”(“ And hookers, ”tweeted one person in response.)

The Roses’ new home is near the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Discovery Children’s Museum, and Downtown Container Park, an open-air center with small shops and restaurants in metal cubes and shipping containers.

Saeed Rahbaran for the Wall Street Journal

Cory Rose, 37, and her husband Austin Rose, 26, both in tech, moved their 16-month-old son from the Bay Area to Vegas in November. They bought a 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home for $ 470,000 in a neighborhood in downtown Vegas called McNeil Estates, a historic neighborhood made up of about 500 humble ranch and midcentury modern homes that were built in the 1950s and 1960s. The houses have neat patches of green lawns and palm trees. The intimate neighborhood is about five minutes from the iconic Strip, with its huge global themed resorts and casinos, and five minutes from the downtown Arts District, where buildings are painted with bright murals and large modern sculptures stand near abandoned old motels. It’s also close to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Discovery Children’s Museum, and Downtown Container Park, an open-air hub of small shops and restaurants in metal cubes and shipping containers with a 40-foot-tall metal sculpture in front of it Praying mantis shooting down six story liquid propane flames.

The Roses mortgage is $ 2,300 per month, half the monthly rent they paid in Emeryville, California (between Oakland and Berkeley) for a 1,200 square foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.

Ms. Rose never considered herself an outdoors person – she owns a t-shirt that says “I’m Inside”. Now that they moved to Vegas, they hike the mountains and canyons west of town every weekend. You even have a bike rack for your car. She and her husband made a list of what they wanted in a city: a professional sports team, good schools, reasonable cost of living, fun activities, a Pacific time zone, and a home within 30 minutes of downtown. The other options, which included Boise, Idaho, Portland, Ore, and Denver, didn’t have all of the boxes ticked like Vegas, she says. Ms. Rose has moved from Washington, DC to Atlanta several times, but she says “this is permanent”.

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Farai Kasambira, 43, co-founder of a technology company, moved to Las Vegas from Irvine, California in May.

Saeed Rahbaran for the Wall Street Journal

“It’s not what people think,” says Farai Kasambira, 43, who moved from Irvine, Calif., To Summerlin, a master-planned community within the Las Vegas city limits of the Spring Mountains and Red Rock Canyon in May , is drawn. As a co-founder of a tech company, he paid $ 2,500 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. In Vegas, he’s paying the same amount to rent a three-bedroom home with a pool in the huge gated community that spans 22,500 acres, has 200 parks, and includes a mix of condos, townhouses, and large single-family homes. There are fitness centers, restaurants, shops, several golf courses, and over 20 private and public schools. What he likes best is being able to live in the suburbs but with easy access to the downtown Arts District, which he says is diverse and energetic.

It was an atmosphere of resilience and hospitality that drew Teddy Liaw, 42, CEO of a call center technology company, from San Francisco to Vegas. In January, he bought a six-bedroom, nine-bathroom, 6,952-square-meter home for $ 2.2 million. Located on half an acre near a golf course, the home features a three-car garage, wine cellar, 400-gallon saltwater aquarium, two pools, and a pool house.

Mr. Kasambira selected Summerlin, a master-planned community, where he rents a three bedroom house with a pool.

Saeed Rahbaran for the Wall Street Journal

“You can tell immediately that friendliness is in the culture,” he says. “I feel motivated to change something here.” In San Francisco, he felt stuck with what he said, rampant crime and open drug use on the streets. Vegas “feels safe. There is peace of mind.”

It might only be a matter of time before Las Vegas faces the same disadvantages as the cities people leave. In 2020, Updater, a moving app, ranked it as the second fastest growing city in relation to population in relation to its population size. The murder rate rose 100% in 2021, with 26 murders on March 26, up from 13 in the same period last year, according to Metro police.

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Real estate agents also expect property prices to continue to rise, partly because supply is so scarce. By the end of February, according to LVR, the number of single-family houses for sale without any offer was 60% lower than in the previous year. “It’s an extreme seller’s market,” says LVR President Aldo Martinez. A plus for living in Las Vegas are relatively low property tax rates. LVR estimates the rate at 0.9% of the value for the greater Las Vegas area. Nevada has a tax cap that says property taxes can only increase a certain amount each year, and selling a home does not trigger a property revaluation.

Mackenzie Johnson feels like he got in just in time. In September 2019, 30-year-old Johnson, who is in the music business, bought a 5,900-square-foot, four-bedroom, swimming pool in Summerlin near a golf course for $ 990,000. It was “devastatingly cheaper” than the equivalent in San Diego, where he lived.

It was also cheaper than Austin, Texas, where a lot of his friends moved, he says. Austin may be a hipster, but he likes the family feel of Vegas, where he hangs out with his golf pals and looks forward to starting a family.

“I thought I was going to stay for a couple of years,” he says. “But it was the best move of my life.”

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