Spring Has Sprung!

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Spring is in the air and as temperatures rise, all segments of the Las Vegas real estate market continue to heat up!

While numbers have held relatively steady over the last six months, supply is dwindling, further driving up prices in the residential market. Properties priced correctly in Summerlin, Southwest, and Henderson are garnering multiple offers.  North Las Vegas properties are selling much faster as well, as a result of the buzz regarding Faraday and other companies moving into Apex. Good luck finding any properties under 200K in good areas!

Having a Mayor that is committed to the recovery and success of the City is also assisting with the strong market.

If you are on the fence about purchasing, now is the time to make a move as interest rates are still well below historic averages and we are still a year or so away from the top of the market.

Single Family Rental market

Currently, there is a 3 week supply of single family rentals on the market, today. This lack of supply is not only driving up rent prices and but also decreasing overall vacancy. We expect these rental rates to peak relatively soon as affordability declines. It will be interesting to see what happens when 6,000 multifamily apartment units hit the market in the southwest part of town. New apartment rents per sq ft are up to $1.60 to $2.00 psf, which is much higher psf than single family dwellings.

Residential Sales

There is a 2.77 months supply on all single family homes in Clark County. Homes under 300K have a 1.74 months supply. A normal market is 6 months. The median price excluding new homes for single family is 209K. At the top of the market it was 319K.

Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed?

Currently, we are still 20% below the top of the market on homes under the FHA limit of 287K. Homes priced over 300K should remain flat, depending on location. These forecasts, however, are dependent on the global market and interest rates.

We are still in expansion mode, until supply rises along with vacancies. While we believe we are a year or so out from the top of the market, there are many factors that could change the current landscape. 2016 is an election year and I don’t anticipate too much of an impact this year but if the new administration raises capital gains taxes, it could have a negative impact on real estate. Interest rate hikes and the global economy are the only other factors that could negatively affect the market.

Commercial Real Estate

Land prices continue to slightly increase as demand grows for residential, multifamily, industrial, and retail. Office zoned land is the only segment that is lagging behind as we are still absorbing existing space and not seeing much new development. The last BLM auction in April netted the highest sales volume in years, with 846 acres sold for a little over 95MM.

Multifamily continues to strive with several notable deals trading in the first quarter; most notable was the Camden portfolio for 630MM for 4,918 units. This was one of the largest transactions for apartments in the history of Las Vegas. Lyric Apartments also traded for 65MM which was $173,803 per unit.

In the first quarter, the industrial market absorbed over 916,804 sq ft of space, while vacancy rates dropped to 6% from 6.5%, last year. In prime areas, industrial land prices have soared to over 500k per acre and several projects are currently under construction.

Similar trends were seen in both the office and retail markets.  During the first quarter of 2016, the office segment absorbed 169,000 sq ft  and vacancy rates dropped to 18.4% from 19% in late 2015.  Retail absorbed 406,173 sq ft, with Q1 2016 vacancy at 8.2%, down from 8.7% in Q4 2015.

For more specific analysis or for a free Brokers Price Opinion on your property, please contact Antone Brazill at 702.434.0091 or visit Brazill Team Real Estate.

Thank you for your business and have a great summer!
Antone Brazill

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Leaving Las Vegas: Camden Property Trust Sells Entire Nevada Portfolio to Oaktree/Bascom JV

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Camden Property Trust has done what few gamblers are able to, the REIT has officially left Las Vegas with a lot of money!

The company began its first quarter earnings conference call with Faith Hill singing Lets Go to Las Vegas and ended it with Sheryl Crow singing Leaving Las Vegas. The musical bookends signalled to investors that the company has officially exited the Las Vegas marketplace.

“The 18 years covered by those two song titles represent our tenure in Las Vegas which came to a close this week. It’s been a great ride,” said Richard J. Campo, Camden chairman and CEO.

The day before the earnings call, Camden completed sale of its Las Vegas portfolio as part of the REIT’s capital-recycling initiatives. The portfolio included 15 communities with 4,918 apartment homes, a retail center, and 19.6 acres of undeveloped land.

The buyer is a partnership between The Bascom Group and Oaktree Capital Management, a joint venture that has recently been teaming up on apartment purchases. The joint venture paid $630 million for the 4,918 apartment unit portfolio, roughly $125,000/unit.

CamdenLogo_calogo1321The communities in Camden’s Las Vegas portfolio were built in the 1990s. The properties reported a combined average occupancy of 95% in the first quarter with average rents of $874/unit.

Camden decided to cash out its Las Vegas assets after remaking the balance of its portfolio, Campo explained. The Las Vegas apartments are roughly twice as old and had monthly revenue of roughly $500 per home less than the balance of its portfolio.

“We have consistently sold older, non-core properties and replaced them with more current and competitive properties,” Campo said. “This effort has increased our revenue per apartment from a $1,042 per month to $1,566 per month.”

“We’re not calling a top to the multifamily market with our sales,” Campo was quick to add. “We’re simply taking advantage of the market opportunity to improve the quality of our properties, reinvest in development on a significant cash-flow positive basis, pay down debt, and return capital to shareholders.”

Camden currently has no other single market portfolio of apartments averaging the rents/home that Las Vegas was getting. Its next lowest market would be Raleigh/Durham where it owns eight communities with 3,054 units averaging $1,002/unit rents.

For more information on the sale, see CoStar Comp #3578091.

Camden’s Las Vegas Portfolio Sold 
Complex — No. of Units — Rent/home
Camden Palisades — 624 — $773
Camden Del Mar — 560 — $1,032
Camden Bel Air — 528 — $790
Camden Tiara — 400 — $965
Camden Commons — 376 — $851
Camden Vintage — 368 — $776
Camden Breeze — 320 — $820
Camden Fairways — 320 — $957
Camden Pines — 315 — $913
Camden Pointe — 252 — $801
Camden Summit — 234 — $1,192
Camden Canyon — 200 — $965
Camden Hills — 184 — $555
Camden Cove — 124 — $781
Camden Legends — 113 — $876

SOURCES:
Camden Property Trust
http://www.costar.com/News/Article/Leaving-Las-Vegas-Camden-Property-Trust-Sells-Entire-Nevada-Portfolio-to-Oaktree-Bascom-JV/181797

Final Part of Showcase Mall on Strip Sold for $83 Million

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Though it took more than a year, a group of New Yorkers have completed their nearly $370 million buyout of Showcase Mall on the Strip.

Jordache jeans founders, the Nakash family, and real estate investor, Eli Gindi, recently paid $82.85 million for a roughly 42,000-square-foot section of Showcase, which is known for its giant Coke bottle and M&M’s out front.

Property records show the sale, by Showcase’s original developer Barry Fieldman, officially closed on December 2, 2015.

Fieldman first invested in the site in the early 1990s. Back then, he said, Showcase’s current footprint had Chevron and Union Oil gas stations, as well as Island Plaza, a pink, single-story retail center.

The sale marks his exit from a property with a complex history of multiple owners, expansions, ground leases, and spats with higher-ups at neighboring MGM Grand.

“This has been a 25-year journey for me and my partners,” he said.

The purchase also gives the Nakash and Gindi group full control of a roughly 330,000-square-foot mall with little vacant space and heavy foot traffic out front, complete with street performers, in the pedestrian-packed casino corridor.

The sale marks the latest investment in a Strip retail property.  Over the past two years, a handful of new retail properties have opened as more tourists avoid card tables and slot machines to shop, dine, party, and enjoy other activities.

Fieldman sold the mall’s southern portion, whose tenants include the Adidas sports-apparel store and the Grand Canyon Experience souvenir shop.

Showcase, on Las Vegas Boulevard just north of Tropicana Avenue, is almost fully occupied and sits in a “prime location” on the Strip, Nakash Holdings managing director Jonathan Bennett said.

Foot traffic is “only getting better,” he said, noting that the 20,000-seat Las Vegas Arena is being built across the street. It’s scheduled to open in spring 2016.

He also said Showcase would get improvements to its facade and have an “ever-increasing variety of stores.”

Gindi, of Gindi Capital, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The Nakash family’s Jordache Enterprises conglomerate has investments in agriculture, clothing, real estate, aviation, and television. Last year, after the Nakashes and Gindi bought their first portion of Showcase, Bennett indicated the group might spruce up the Coca-Cola bottle with LED lighting, Times Square-style.

They bought that 190,000-square-foot chunk in May 2014 for $145 million from New York investment firm Angelo, Gordon & Co. and San Francisco-based developer City Center Realty Partners. In January 2015, they teamed with New York home-curtains manufacturer Elyahu Cohen to buy a roughly 100,000-square-foot section for $139.5 million from Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Unilev Capital Corp.

Fieldman and developer Bob Unger opened the first phase of Showcase in 1996, said Fieldman, who butted heads with the MGM Grand.

“In board meetings, they called me ‘the cancer that grew,’” he said of casino management.

Only one or two people from those days still work for MGM, he said, and relations have been fine in recent years.

Fieldman, who moved to the valley in 1978, also said that in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Las Vegas “was a pariah” largely shunned by corporate America. He noted that even when Citicorp opened a credit-card processing center here in 1985, which business boosters saw as a major victory for a casino-heavy economy shaking off decades of mafia power, the New York financial giant scrapped “Las Vegas, NV” for its mailing address and opted for “The Lakes, NV.”

But in the ’90s, Fieldman said, his group signed deals with Coca-Cola and M&M’s, brands that are as “apple pie” as any, to open stores on the Strip with prominent signage.

“Nobody else was heading that direction,” he said.

Today, the sidewalk in front of Showcase, like other parts of the Strip, is a magnet of sorts for another type of enterprise: busking.

On a visit this week, people dressed as Batman, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Mr. T and Tupac Shakur had gathered near an entrance to MGM Grand not far from Showcase, to take photos with tourists in exchange for tips. Others had lined up in formation, preparing to dance to thumping music.

Outside Grand Canyon Experience, 63-year-old Boris Ruiz, a Guatemala native who lives near UNLV, was wearing a Santa Claus outfit with the head of Mickey Mouse. He said he goes there three times a week sometimes and has made more than $200 a day.

Source: http://vegasinc.com/business/real-estate/2015/dec/09/showcase-mall-las-vegas-strip/

Antone J. Brazill Awarded CCIM Designation

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Antone J. Brazill, CCIM, Principal Brazill Team Real Estate Las Vegas has been awarded the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation by the CCIM Institute. The designation was awarded during the Institute’s Annual Governance meetings on October 29, 2015, in Austin, Texas.

Mr. Brazill was among the 244 commercial real estate professionals who earned the designation by passing the CCIM Institute’s Comprehensive Examination, the final element in the designation process. This new group of CCIM designees hails from 43 U.S. states, as well as Canada.

“Achieving this prestigious designation enables me to add additional services to exceed our clients’ expectations.”

The CCIM designation is awarded to commercial real estate professionals upon successful completion of an advanced analytical curriculum and presentation of a portfolio of qualifying industry experience. The curriculum addresses financial analysis, market analysis, user decision analysis, and investment analysis — the cornerstones of commercial investment real estate. CCIMs are recognized experts in commercial real estate brokerage, leasing, asset management, valuation, and investment analysis.

Antone J. Brazill, CCIM has been practicing commercial real estate for twelve years in Southern Nevada and is currently a Sponsor for the local CCIM Chapter.

To learn more about the CCIM Institute’s education and designation program, please visit www.ccim.com.  For assistance with your real estate needs, or to discuss buying or selling your real estate, please contact Stacy or Antone Brazill via phone, 702-278-3886, or visit The Brazill Team online at www.thebrazillteam.com.

Las Vegas Real Estate Market Snapshot, January 2016

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Happy New Year! Thank you for making 2015 another record year for Brazill Team Real Estate!  We appreciate you and your business.

We are optimistic that 2016 is going to be another stellar year! Based on the transactional volume the last few months and what is currently in the pipeline, we believe this will be another strong year for our market.  While real estate generally tends to slowdown in the months January and February, this does not appear to be the case this year.  In fact, the current market is reminiscent of 2005 and 2006 as construction is booming, unemployment is down, and the economic indicators for Las Vegas are up. Hopefully we do not soon forget what happened in 2008 and can take a responsible approach on lending and spending.

In the final quarter of 2015, numbers in the residential real estate market remained relatively flat, with the exception of average days on market which now is at 113 days, a slight increase from the 90 days reported last quarter. The median list price is $270k (flat) and average asking price per sq. ft. is $127, a slight increase.  While it is a sellers’ market, we believe pricing is a little optimistic, as thirty five percent (35%) of the sellers have had to reduce their price to get offers.

The median sales price of existing homes is $220k, a 6% increase over last year.  As such, the difference between the list price and sales price is $50k. The median sales price for new Las Vegas homes is $316k, a 40% difference than resale value, the highest difference in the nation. Based on these numbers, we anticipate either resale prices will increase or new home prices will decrease, as the normal spread is 15%.

Overall, the residential market is continuing to improve, a trend that will likely continue through 2016. The commercial market, however, remains in recovery in all segments -with apartments leading the way.

For more information about the current state of the Las Vegas real estate market, or to discuss buying or selling your real estate, please contact Stacy or Antone Brazill via phone, 702-278-3886, or visit The Brazill Team online at www.thebrazillteam.com.

This Las Vegas Real Estate Market Report was compiled by Stacy and Antone Brazill, The Brazill Team.  This report was developed using data from various industry reports as well as the Brazill’s vast knowledge of the local marketplace.  Stacy and Antone Brazill have worked in the Las Vegas real estate market for decades and their agency is deeply experienced in all facets of traditional and investment real estate including Multi-family, Land, Office, Retail, Industrial, Residential and Development. 

For questions regarding this report, or to obtain additional information about current Las Vegas real estate opportunities, please contact The Brazill Team at 702-278-3886 or visit their website, www.thebrazillteam.com.

Zillow: The (In)Accuracy of Zestimates® & Why You Still Need a Real Estate Professional

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We admit it; one of the greatest evolutions in real estate over the last decade is the power of the Internet!  In fact, according to some, more than 90 percent of homebuyers begin their real estate search on the Internet.  We applaud this evolution, we would even go so far as to admit it’s great!, as it empowers buyers to do their own property research and searches.  However, we advise prospective buyers and sellers to beware!

While real estate websites such as Zillow offer an array of helpful information, they also offer data, information, and estimates (or “Zestimates®”), that are highly inaccurate and often outdated.  For example, Zillow’s “Zestimates®,” use an “automated valuation model” — AVM for short — that purportedly present a great estimate of the current market value of millions of homes.  It’s innovative technology, which amasses an enormous amount of information from publicly available sources and then scrubbs the data using sophisticated algorithms, to predict value. And while all of that is presented in an easy-to-use user interface, even Zillow cautions users to beware.

According to Zillow, “The Zestimate® home value is Zillow’s estimated market value for an individual home and is calculated for about 100 million homes nationwide. It is a starting point in determining a home’s value and is not an official appraisal. The Zestimate® is automatically computed three times per week based on millions of public and user-submitted data points.”

Inaccurate-Zestimates-300x225Bottom line:  The predicted values found online are wildly inaccurate and inconsistent.

As real estate agents, we know that one of our most difficult tasks is pricing a home. That holds true whether we are representing a seller or a buyer. Market pressures change from week to week, not to mention from neighborhood to neighborhood. The motivation of the parties is always a factor, as is the condition of a home and those around it. No algorithm, however sophisticated, can quantify the value of a kitchen that was remodeled just before a home was put on the market or a yard that is poorly maintained. It simply isn’t possible for any AVM to predict the value of a home with a level of accuracy sufficient to make a housing decision.  Accurate estimates require the work of experienced, qualified real estate professionals.

Even Zillow knows this is true, and they say as much on their website.  That’s why their Zestimates® feature the option to, “Get a Professional Estimate” and offer links to the contact information of local, professional real estate agents.

They even include this statement regarding their “Zestimates®” of value: “The Zestimate® is not an appraisal and you won’t be able to use it in place of an appraisal, though you can certainly share it with real estate professionals. It is a computer-generated estimate of the worth of a house today, given the available data. Zillow does not offer the Zestimate® as the basis of any specific real-estate related financial transaction. Our data sources may be incomplete or incorrect; also, we have not physically inspected a specific home. Remember, the Zestimate® is a starting point and does not consider all the market intricacies that can determine the actual price a house will sell for.”

While we agree Zillow is a helpful tool, research shows that, on average, “Zestimates®” are within 5 percent of the actual value of a home, only 50% of the time.   If we as real estate agents got within 5 percent of the value of a home that infrequently, we’d be out of business!

So if you want to base their valuation of a home purchase or sale on what they find on the Internet, we suggest they take out a coin and flip it. Heads — that value is within 5 percent  (high or low) or what the home is actually worth. Tails — that value could be 10 percent, 20 percent or more off target.  Better yet, why not contact us to obtain an accurate estimate!

Las Vegas Real Estate Market Report, September 2015

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As we officially enter the final month of Q3, 2015, the Las Vegas real estate market continues to show signs of improvement!

Indicators across all four major segments, including single family residences, investment and rental properties, commercial real estate, and industrial, reflect the continued growth and rebound of our local market.

Residential Real Estate

The residential real estate market is not only strong but also continuing to improve, as prices have increased 9 to 11%, year-over-year, depending on location and price point.   Over 50% of listed homes are going into contract within 30 days.  This data suggests that if the property is priced correctly, sellers can anticipate offers within an average of 60 days.

Currently, there are 7,595 single family residences (SFR) available, not under contract.  The Las Vegas residential market is also averaging 2,440 sales per month, indicating the market is currently at or below a 90 day supply.

Absorption rates, however, vary within each price band. For example, properties priced at each of the following maintain a current supply of:

  • Under $300k – 2 month supply
  • $301-$500k- 5 month supply
  • $501k- $800k -9 month supply
  • $800k-$1MM- 10 month supply
  • $1MM & Over – 15 month supply

While the price band absorption is subject to location, it offers a strong indication as to the importance of pricing.

Though supply is relatively strong in the high end Luxe market ($1MM & Over), this price band appears to be improving.  As of September 1, 2015, Luxe market inventory was 355 available homes (priced above $1MM), while only 270 homes sold in the last 12 months.

The high end market is very sensitive to location with new construction in the Ridges and Macdonald Highlands commanding higher price per sq ft than other mature areas such as Tournament hills and Red Rock Country Club. The Ridges commanded the highest sale in years at 11MM last month.

Across all price bands, the median price of Las Vegas homes is $275k, which is still 15% lower than 2006, supporting continued gradual increased appreciation.

Notice of Defaults have also increased.  We anticipate this resulting in more trustee sales, which may affect the average cost of homes sold.  Additionally, Heloc’s and adjustable rate mortgages from 2005 and 2006 are still adjusting and, unfortunately, home equity has not rebounded enough to cover refinancing.  The Brazill Team is diligently monitoring this situation, to Las Vegas homeowners.

Investment and Rental Real Estate

Similar to the residential real estate marketing, the Las Vegas rental real estate market continues to show signs of improvement.

Currently, there are currently 2,853 rentals on the market in the Las Vegas Valley.  On average, 2,661 residences are rented each month, leaving an inventory of less than a 2 month supply of homes (1.07).

The time on market varies, according to price range.  As of September 1, 2015, calculations were as follows, based on monthly rent:

  • Up to $1000/mo – Less than .75 month supply
  • $1100-$1200/mo – 1.02 month supply
  • $1201-$1300/mo – .9 month supply
  • $1301-$1400/mo – 1.09 month supply
  • $1401- $1500/mo – 1.16 month supply

The market has also seen an increase in monthly rental rates.

Commercial Real Estate

Land prices throughout the Valley are still climbing!  Though single family dirt remains relatively flat, averaging $375k to $400k per acre in Class A locations, multi-family land is still heavily in demand, with prices ranging from $460k to $600k per acre.  Additionally, hard zoned, multi-family has been picked clean in the last 3 years and site selection has been a challenge.

Retail land is trading, when there are AAA credit leases in place, and single tenant development is increasing in good locations.   Industrial land is also trading, with tenant driven development.

Office Development – Medical office development on the rise.

Office Market – The office market is still struggling with oversupply and a 18.5% vacancy. New construction near hospitals, in all areas of the valley, is allowing the medical office segment to pick up.

Multi-family – The multi-family segment is still on fire with demand increasing.  As the Millennials market is opting to rent, rather than buy, as they want all of the amenities with less maintenance, builders are conceding.  Merchant builders are also cashing in as prices on Class A properties are closing near $200k per door.

Cap rates are compressing to low 5’s and in some cases sub 5. There are thousands of units slated to come online in 2016 so we will be watching vacancy next year to see if we are approaching hyper supply.

Retail – The retail segment is bouncing back!  The vacancy down to 9.7% and the asking rental rate has increased to 1.28 PSF NNN. The ICSC conference was finally packed this year with a lot of optimistic retailers signing several leases.

Industrial Real Estate

As with the other major segments of the Las Vegas real estate market, industrial real estate is also showing signs of improvement.  Overall, industrial vacancy is down to 6.6%, year-over-year.  Warehouse distribution is driving the increased demand, and pushing average rental rates to $0.57 PSF NNN.

 Conclusion

The Las Vegas real estate market is at the top end of recovery, phasing into expansion in most segments, except office. Multi-family is phasing from expansion to hyper supply with all of the new projects in the pipeline.

For more information about the current state of the Las Vegas real estate market, or to discuss buying or selling your real estate, please contact Stacy or Antone Brazill via phone, 702-278-3886, or visit The Brazill Team online at www.thebrazillteam.com.

This Las Vegas Real Estate Market Report was compiled by Stacy and Antone Brazill, The Brazill Team.  This report was developed using data from various industry reports as well as the Brazill’s vast knowledge of the local marketplace.  Stacy and Antone Brazill have worked in the Las Vegas real estate market for decades and their agency is deeply experienced in all facets of traditional and investment real estate including Multi-family, Land, Office, Retail, Industrial, Residential and Development. 

For questions regarding this report, or to obtain additional information about current Las Vegas real estate opportunities, please contact The Brazill Team at 702-278-3886 or visit their website, www.thebrazillteam.com.

Tips for Identifying Real Estate Fraud

Fraud AlertRealtors report squatters in foreclosed homes try to rent them to unsuspecting tenants.

With its still-copious vacant units, our region is prime real estate for rental scam predators, according to Las Vegas and Southern Nevada experts.

And it’s not just an online financial attack anymore.  It’s flesh and bones dangerous.

Coincidentally, a local Las Vegas realtor, said she recently experienced a rental scam encounter of the scariest kind. Here’s how she described the situation:

“Just a week ago, I had a prospective tenant call me and tell me that my sign was in the window of a property near UNLV, and it said ‘For Rent.’ While the prospective tenant was on the phone with me, another man came out of the property and approached him. He claimed to be the maintenance man for the owner, and he offered to take the man inside to see the house.

I told the prospective tenant to roll up his window, hold on to his wallet and drive away quickly because this is a scam artist renting out a vacant or foreclosed home that does not belong to him. Interestingly, the scam artist went so far as to steal a Realtor sign to use to try to make his rental story sound legitimate, I guess. However, he was just holed up in the property, waiting for people to pull up and then coming out to talk to them. I’m sure he never thought that the prospective tenant would call my office before the scam artist saw them and came outside to talk.”

This month, a law takes effect regarding squatters that makes it a felony for a person to occupy a home without the express consent of the owner.  That means a lease signed by the actual owner.

“As badly as I feel for the tenants who get taken advantage of, this scam is not going to go away any time soon. It’s the responsibility of the tenant to make sure they are renting from the real owner. The only way I can advise them to be fully ensured of that is to only rent homes through licensed property management companies.”

The easiest way to verify ownership is to go online and enter the person’s name and company name.  It’s free. If the person is a legitimate, licensed property manager offering a home for lease, they will be listed as a licensee in good standing with the Nevada Real Estate Division.

Also, the home’s address can be entered into the Clark County assessor site for a search to find the owner of record.

“One thing that I believe has allowed this to become such an issue is that our utility providers do not require much for utilities to be turned on at a property, as far as actual proof that a person has a right to occupy a home,” the realtor said. “My suggestion to our local utilities would be that a notarized document signed by the actual owner of record would be required in order for another person who is not on the deed to get the utilities turned on in their name. A lease is no longer sufficient evidence of a legitimate tenant.”

Keith Lynam, president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, said he intends to address the safety issue by working closer with Las Vegas police.

“It’s becoming so prevalent in this town,” Lynam said. “It’s time we start working with Metro. Squatters are one thing. I’m more concerned about bodily harm. (We need to act) before something tragic happens.”

Until that time, Lynam advises prospective renters to use common sense.

“The worst thing is not listening to your instincts and not saying something’s wrong,” Lynam said. “You’ve got to follow your gut. I know that’s not much advice, but your stomach is usually a lot further ahead than your brain.  We have a lot of squatter stuff that is bothersome, but we’re going to start working with Metro to address this (safety) problem.”

It may be somewhat less scary on the cyberfront of rental scams, but it’s certainly as fiscally damaging. And with each new rental snare created on the web, chances become more likely that it will be you and not “the other guy” who gets trapped and taken.

Lynam’s advice on following your gut applies equally to website offers. Many ask prospective renters to send money without having met anyone or having seen the apartment.  But it’s not common to pay a lot of money for something sight-unseen. So, if a landlord expects you to pay a lot before you lease an apartment, it’s a reason to be concerned. Experts say not to rely on promises or photos, but to physically visit any apartment you’re considering renting. According to a warning on Craigslist, not following this one rule accounts for 99 percent of scam attempts.

Here’s what to keep in mind when you’re looking for the perfect rental:

  • The scammer can be a bona fide landlord or, more likely, an impostor.
  • A tenant who’s vacating his apartment might pretend to be the landlord.
  • He might collect fees and security deposits up front. Once the prospects realize they’ve been scammed, the scammer has usually vanished with their money.
  • Using a reputable apartment search website doesn’t mean you can’t get scammed by unscrupulous landlords or people posing as landlords who manage to get their listings onto these sites.

Here are some common scam scenarios to be aware of:

  • The landlord seems too eager to lease the apartment to you. Many landlords want to know your credit score, and they may also want more information about you, such as a criminal background check and employment verification. If a landlord doesn’t seem interested in any form of tenant screening or appears too eager to negotiate the rent and other lease terms with you, it’s suspicious.
  • You’re asked to pay an unusually high security deposit or too many upfront fees. If the landlord wants a higher security deposit than what’s required by law, or if upfront fees seem excessive to you, it could be a sign that the landlord wants to take your money and run.
  • You feel too much sales pressure. If a landlord acts too pushy, it can be a red flag.
  • You’re told you don’t need a lawyer.  It’s true you don’t need a lawyer to review your lease, and generally speaking, it’s in a landlord’s best interest for you to skip lawyer review and just take the rental. But when a landlord makes a point of saying that you don’t need a lawyer, it could be a sign that the landlord is trying to rush you into signing the lease and handing over money, perhaps because he doesn’t really own the building or already leased the apartment to someone else.
  • You’re told you don’t need a lease.  It’s true you don’t need a lease to live in an apartment. Although renting an apartment under a lease is the most typical situation, but a month-to-month rental agreement is fairly common. But only you know what you need. If a landlord tries to get money from you without considering that you might want a lease, think twice. It could be that the “landlord” doesn’t have any lease to show you.
  • The landlord has a convenient excuse for not being able to meet you or show the property. The person behind a listing might say he’s out of the country indefinitely or that he won’t return until after you would need to agree to the rental and pay money.

Some final cautionary advice for prospective renters:

“If it sounds too good to be true, it’s definitely a scam. Period!”

Las Vegas Real Estate Snapshot: June 2015 Statistics

GLVAR Real Estate Statistics, June 2015

 

 

According to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors (GLVAR), June 2015 was a strong month for Las Vegas real estate!

Though the number of available single family residential units and condo/townhouse units decreased, year-over-year, median list price increased just over 14%, for both segments, while average list price increased 13.9% for single family residential units and 7.8% for condo/townhouse units.

The number of available units listed without offers was mixed as single family residential units increased 4.3%, year-over-year, while condo/townhouse units decreased 0.2%.  Median list price of available single family residential units increased 12%, with median list price of available condo/townhouse units increasing 10.7%. Average list price of available units also increased, year-over-year, across both segments.

The number of new single family residential listings increased 11.6%, year-over-year, while units sold increased 14.2%.  In the condo/townhouse market, new listings decreased 2.1%, year-over-year, though there was a 6.3% increase in the number of units sold.

If you are interested in learning more about the Las Vegas real estate market or discussing current real estate opportunities, please contact the Brazill Team.

 

Seven Tax Code Changes Taking Effect in 2015

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As we begin preparing our documents for our 2014 tax filings, it’s important to begin prepping for the upcoming tax year.

While gathering documents for the past year’s taxes is definitely the top priority this time of year, equally pressing is the need to adjust your budget to account for changes in the tax code that took effect on New Year’s Day as the new year brought a variety of changes in the tax code.

Here are seven big changes that will affect a large number of taxpayers in 2015:

Tax Brackets: For the new tax year starting in January, income tax thresholds have again been adjusted up for inflation. The highest tax rate of 39.6%, for instance, will now apply to single filers who make over $413,200 and married couples making $464,850. Both figures are up about 1.6% from tax year 2014. For more information on specific income tax brackets by filing status, check out the latest IRS revenue procedure document.

IRA Rollovers: Starting in 2015, you can only make one single rollover from an IRA in a 12-month period. This is a bit tricky, because you can still make as many “trustee-to-trustee” transfers as you wish, moving your money directly from one provider to another. What the new IRS rule targets is the practice of withdrawing all those funds and then re-depositing them in a new account – a tactic some folks were using as a short-term, interest-free loan. To protect yourself, limit all rollovers to direct transfers in 2015 if you plan on moving money more than once.

AMT Changes: The so-called “alternative minimum tax” is quite a headache for many middle-class Americans. Since certain breaks can significantly reduce your tax bill, the IRS created the AMT to set a limit on those benefits – and ensure a minimum tax burden on you. The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount for tax year 2015 is $53,600 for individuals or $83,400 for joint filers. That’s up slightly, about 1.5% from 2014.

401(k) Limits: The limit on employee contributions to a 401(k) plan will increase to $18,000, up $500 from 2014’s cap. That means you tell your payroll department to adjust up your contribution starting on the first of the year to ensure you save the maximum allowable in 2015. Also, the “catch-up” allowance for those over than 50 has also been increased, allowing for an additional $6,000 in contributions instead of the $5,500 cap previously. These new contribution levels are also applicable to 403b accounts and most 457 retirement plans as well.

Flexible Spending Account Limits: The annual limit on employee contributions to flexible spending accounts is now $2,550 for qualified health care expenses. That’s up $50 from 2014, so make sure you opt in for this new maximum amount if you take advantage of a health care FSA.

Standard Deduction: The standard deduction – that is, the basic tax break extended to all Americans each year — rises to $6,300 for single filers and $12,600 for married taxpayers filing jointly in 2015. That’s up $100 and $200, respectively, from 2014 figures. The standard deduction is crucial to tax planning and withholding, because if you cannot itemize enough deductions to surpass this amount, this is the only tax break the government will likely be giving you on next year’s tax return.

Health Insurance Penalty: Part of the Affordable Care Act mandates that all Americans have health insurance, or pay a tax penalty as a result. In 2014, the penalties are 1% of your household income or $95 per person – whichever is greater. But in 2015, those penalties ramp up significantly to 2% of total household income, or $325 per person. That can really add up for a middle-class family of four. If you’re not covered and paying a penalty on your 2014 taxes, make sure you get health insurance ASAP to avoid penalties as we enter a new tax year in January.

To discuss whether these tax changes will affect your real estate portfolio or property values, please contact Stacy or Antone Brazill.  To learn more about the tax code changes themselves, please contact your CPA or tax service provider.

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/12/19/taxes-2014-w-2-retirement/19903221/