Shopoff sells Las Vegas multifamily property for $100 mln

Shopoff Realty Investments has sold Point at Centennial, a Las Vegas-based multifamily property, for $100 million. The buyer was The Calida Group.

PRESS RELEASE

LAS VEGAS – March 6, 2019 – Shopoff Realty Investments (“Shopoff”), a national manager of opportunistic and value-add real estate investments, announced today that the company has successfully sold Point at Centennial, formerly Sky Pointe Landing, a 624-unit multifamily apartment community located at 5850 & 5900 Sky Pointe Drive, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The property was sold to The Calida Group, a Las Vegas-based multifamily real estate development and investment firm, for $100 million.

Purchased in September 2016, the property is comprised of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartment homes featuring nine-foot ceilings, walk-in closets, in-unit washer and dryers, private patios and detached garages. A value-add investment opportunity, at the time of acquisition, roughly 25 percent of the units had been renovated by the previous owner.

“By bringing the percentage of renovated units at the property up to 50 percent, we captured significant rent increases, approximately 20 percent higher than the property’s average rental rate at the outset of the renovation plan,” explained Shopoff Realty Investment CEO William Shopoff.

In addition to unit renovations, capital improvements were made to the property including new entry gates, leasing office remodel, landscaping, upgraded lighting, roof repairs, exterior painting, and clubhouse gym upgrades.

“As a result of the renovations we were able to elevate the property’s status in the Las Vegas market,” said Shopoff. “Our investment plan also ultimately allowed us to attract an unsolicited buyer. We were very pleased with The Calida Group as our successor, who we believe will continue to affect the successful transition of this community. The founders worked hard to ensure they kept to their word, doing what they said they were going to do and we would welcome the opportunity to work with them again.”

“While the deal was very complex, Shopoff was an excellent partner throughout the entire process, resulting in a successful outcome for both parties,” said The Calida Group Co-Founder and Managing Director Douglas Eisner. “We look forward to continuing to provide a community that appeals to our residents’ lifestyles.”

About Shopoff Realty Investments
Shopoff Realty Investments is an Irvine, California-based real estate firm with a 26-year history of value-add and opportunistic investing across the United States. The company primarily focuses on proactively generating appreciation through the repositioning of commercial income-producing properties and the entitlement of land assets. The 26-year history includes operating as Asset Recovery Fund, Eastbridge Partners and Shopoff Realty Investments (formerly known as The Shopoff Group). Performance has varied in this time frame, with certain offerings generating losses. For additional information, please visit www.shopoff.com or call (844) 4-SHOPOFF.

About The Calida Group
Founded by Douglas Eisner and Eric Cohen in 2007, The Calida Group is a leading developer and operator of multifamily, mixed-use real estate properties and senior housing with more than 14,000 units developed or acquired. Our talented team of professionals begins with the end in mind—cultivating a unique vision for every project and thoughtfully executing each step in the process with precision and care until its fruition.

Excellence breeds success, so we hold ourselves to the highest standards of quality, design, risk management and reporting, an assertion shared by our partners, investors and ultimately our residents. The Calida Group challenges the perception of apartment living by developing designs and creating experience-driven amenities that seamlessly fit into to our residents’ fast-paced lives. We differentiate ourselves from the competition through thoughtful design and services, offering a chic, fun and urbane environment not found at other luxury apartment home communities. Our residents live dynamic, exciting and socially connected lives. Our apartment communities exemplify and facilitate these goals.

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City of Las Vegas leaving NV Energy?

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LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Las Vegas City Council will consider a letter of intent to negotiate with a deal that could see it become the first city in Nevada to leave the utility.

The letter of intent with Nebraska-based Tenaska Power Services is on the consent agenda for Wednesday’s council meeting.

This as a second item would also begin negotiations with NV Energy on regarding a new agreement with the utility.

Both agenda items note the moves are being made as the city’s current renewable energy agreements with NV Energy are set to expire this year.

If it decides to make a move away from NV Energy, the City of Las Vegas will join the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority which recently filed paperwork with the Public Utilities Commission to begin the process of leaving the utility.

In filings with the PUC, NV Energy says it has identified 42 customers and six government entities that use enough electricity annually to leave the utility under state law.

Many of the largest energy users in the state have already started the process of at least exploring the move.

MGM Resorts are paying $87 million to leave NV Energy and move an agreement with Tenaska. Wynn Resorts and Caesars Entertainment properties have also left the utility company.

Ten other companies filed initial paperwork with the PUC in 2018, and three have already filed this year.

Part of the negotiations between the city and Tenaska would likely center on whether the savings under the new company could offset the exit fee the city would face for leaving NV Energy.

For its part, the utility says it is working to keep the City of Las Vegas as a customer.

"We believe we are the best energy partner for the City of Las Vegas and will continue to work closely with them to offer solutions to keep them as a fully-bundled customer," Jennifer Schuricht with NV Energy said in a statement.

The exits fees are the biggest hurdle when it comes to companies making a move, but are built into the law allowing companies to forge their power path. Those fees, set by the PUC, are meant to offset infrastructure costs incurred by the utilities to cover the electric needs of large companies for up to 20 years in the future.

Copyright 2019 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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How Las Vegas has become a permanent home for many

DK Las Vegas Las Vegas permanent home native2

Powered by DK Las Vegas

The once-transient nature of Las Vegas is changing, and the Valley is becoming a permanent home for more and more residents each year. It’s not just gamblers and retirees—Las Vegas attracts people from all walks of life, including young professionals, families and businesspeople, and it looks like they’re here to stay.

Southern California’s moving in

Based on a sample of 1 million Redfin users, the real estate service reported that in the third quarter of 2018, LA had the third-highest net outflow—the number of residents looking to leave the metropolitan area minus the number of people trying to move in—in the country, behind only San Francisco and New York City. The top out-of-state destination for Los Angelenos was Las Vegas.

The median listing price for a single-family home in Las Vegas is $299,900 compared with $799,250 in LA as of December 31, according to Zillow. And real estate isn’t the only thing that makes living in the Golden State more expensive.

“So many buyers come here after being priced out of California that I call them economic refugees,” said Uri Vaknin, a partner at KRE Capital, which owns the DK Las Vegas portfolio of condos. “In Las Vegas, homes and condos are more affordable, the cost of living is lower, property taxes are lower, there’s no income tax—it goes on and on. Las Vegas has also grown up and become a truly great place to live.”

Who else is moving in?

It’s not just Californians coming to town. Las Vegas has become home to transplants from all over the country.

People from neighboring states, such as Arizona and Utah, move to Nevada in high numbers, and Vaknin notes a high number of transplants from other regions as well. “We’ve seen a lot of people moving from states, such as Hawaii and New York, and cities, such as Portland and Seattle.”

Why Las Vegas?

It’s true, Las Vegas has become a truly great place to live, and the good just keeps getting better. The housing market is healthy, the economy is booming and new industries are coming in, diversifying the community and workforce.

Having multiple professional sports teams has also strengthened the city’s allure, particularly with the success of the Golden Knights and the excitement surrounding the Raiders. “We’ve had buyers purchase because of the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas,” said Shahn Douglas, director of marketing for the DK Las Vegas portfolio of condos.

Our sports teams have also been instrumental in creating a sense of Las Vegas pride, something that will continue to anchor residents and draw new ones in.

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Australia’s former foreign minister Julie Bishop will not fight next election

FILE PHOTO: Australian then Foreign Minister Julie Bishop speaks at a joint press conference with New Zealand’s then Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee (not pictured) in Sydney, Australia, May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s former foreign minister, Julie Bishop, will retire from politics at the next election due by May, following signs that the ruling government will retain power, she said on Thursday.

“It is my view that the Liberal-National coalition will win the next election because it is focusing on the things that matter to the Australian people,” Bishop told parliament.

“And on that basis, I have reconsidered my position… I will not re-contest the seat of Curtin at the next election.”

Bishop has represented Curtin, a constituency in Western Australia, since 1998. She was foreign minister from September 2013 to August 2018, and deputy leader of the Liberal Party, which governs in coalition with the Nationals.

She resigned both posts after a backbench revolt last August forced then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull from power. He was replaced by then treasurer Scott Morrison, who defeated Bishop in a party vote.

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Famous Los leads Home Team in NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

Away team’s Brad Williams (7) dribbles during the first half of an NBA All-Star Celebrity basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Comedian Famous Los scored 22 points and was selected the MVP in the Home Team’s 82-80 victory over the Visiting Team on Friday night in the highest-scoring NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.

Quavo, part of the hip-hop trio Migos, scored 27 points for the Visiting Team, and former NBA star Ray Allen added 24 in the game at Bojangles Coliseum that featured 4-point baskets.

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Las Vegas home prices soaring, but still below bubble years

The view from an AirSign Airship blimp after taking off from the North Las Vegas Airport in North Las Vegas, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco

Las Vegas home prices, as buyers and brokers know, are climbing fast, outpacing major markets and sparking affordability concerns around the valley.

But in a sign of just how extreme last decade’s boom and bust was, resale prices still haven’t hit pre-recession peaks, which were reached more than 12 years ago.

The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes, the bulk of the market, was $300,000 last month. That’s more than doubled since hitting bottom in early 2012 at $118,000, but it is still below the boom-era peak of $315,000 in mid-2006, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Adjusting for inflation, the market has much more than a $15,000 gap from the previous high. In today’s dollars, the peak resale price was around $390,000.

Southern Nevada’s prices have “made up substantial ground” since the economy crashed, but unlike in Las Vegas, prices in most U.S. markets have surpassed previous peaks to hit new highs, according to Brian Gordon, co-owner of Las Vegas consulting firm Applied Analysis.

Resale prices aren’t the only aspect of the valley’s housing market that remains off from the bubble years.

Homebuilders closed around 10,670 sales in Southern Nevada last year, up from just 3,900 in 2011 after the market collapsed but nowhere near the peak of almost 39,000 sales in 2005 alone, according to Home Builders Research.

When the housing market gains speed, locals often wonder if we’re in, or about to enter, another bubble. It’s a legitimate fear, and there’s no question that things accelerated in 2018.

Sales prices and rental rates rose at some of the fastest clips in the country, builders sold the most homes in more than a decade and fetched record prices, and newly built apartments filled with tenants.

A bubble could always happen again, and it’s tough to forget how the last one — with its bloated property values, rampant construction and widespread house-flipping — led to years of financial misery after it burst, including sweeping foreclosures, plunging home prices and masses of underwater borrowers.

The market has cooled off in recent months, though whether this turns into a full-on crash is anyone’s guess. As it stands, resales are tumbling, the tally of available listings has soared, and there are some signs of cracks in the homebuilding market.

But it is worth noting that, by all accounts, the market’s acceleration of the past year or so was fueled by an expanding population, a growing job market and a low supply of homes for sale, not by sloppy mortgage lending, like it was last decade.

“That’s what led us down that last road,” said Aldo Martinez, a branch manager for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “We can’t forget history.”

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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Art Institute of Las Vegas on the brink of collapse, leaving students with uncertain future

The Art Institute of Las Vegas, located at 2350 Corporate Circle in Henderson, is set to close at the end of March because of financial problems.

The tagline “Create Tomorrow” appears on the door to the Art Institute of Las Vegas.

That tomorrow is in jeopardy for the hundreds of students paying about $90,000 in tuition to prepare for dream jobs in fashion, film, animation, visual design, interior design, gaming and culinary arts.

Financial troubles have brought the Art Institute to its knees. Parent company Dream Center Education Holdings notified the Nevada Commission on Postsecondary Education that it intends to close the institute by March 31.

But a miracle might still occur. The court-appointed receivership could keep the doors open long enough for a buyer with deeper pockets to save the day.

“We’re like the rest of the world — we’re waiting to see what happens,” says Kelly Wuest, administrator for the Nevada Commission of Postsecondary Education, who added that when she receives new information, she’ll post it on the commission’s website, cpe.nv.gov. “Hopefully, if something goes wrong, we’re able to make [students] whole, give refunds and help them find good programs.”

This isn’t the first of the problems for the school located in Henderson. It was already under censure from its accrediting organization, ACICS (Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools), for a campus-level job placement rate of 49 percent, 11 percentage points below the standard.

As part of a “show cause,” the campus was given a corrective action plan and is required to submit quarterly accountability reports. If it doesn’t improve, it could lose accreditation. That is, if it continues to exist.

Calls to various numbers at the Art Institute went unanswered and unreturned. The phone number for Academic Affairs & Student Services, for example, leads to a Verizon wireless message saying that “the called party is temporarily unavailable.” Efforts to reach Dream Center Education Holdings were also unsuccessful.

Angie Miner studies game art and design at the Art Institute of Las Vegas.

Heartbreak for Students

Some students stopped attending classes when news of the impending closure broke last week. Others press forward, finishing out the current quarter even though their credits may not count toward anything. (Only currently attending students are eligible for refunds through the state.)

Angie Miner is one such dedicated student. A proud member of the dean’s list, she was on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in game art and design. Now she’s hoping to find an online program that offers similar instruction. No equivalent degree exists in Nevada.

“It’s my absolute favorite thing and now it’s all going to be taken away,” Miner says. She describes the Art Institute as a “utopia for nerds,” a place where she finally fits in and where there’s no bullying.

On Thursday afternoon, Miner attended a painting club with a handful of other students. The club meets in the life drawing classroom, an area that is still full of inspiration and possibility: Bulletin boards double as impromptu gallery space featuring impressive student-drawn portraits; a model skeleton holds a paintbrush and sports a toothy grin; easels form a half circle around a platform for live models — today the platform holds art supplies.

In this rarefied space, the students sketched or oil painted, commiserated over their interrupted education and discussed contingency plans for the future. They wondered what would happen to the furniture and the library books.

When she first heard the news of the possible closure, Miner says she felt numb, only accepting the direness of the situation when she saw the lights off in administration offices. The organization has already had massive layoffs, leaving only instructors, security and a few others.

“Printers are breaking down and they’re not even bothering to fix them,” Miner says. “Once it clicked, I started crying because I absolutely love this school. … Video game art is the only thing I’m willing to do. I don’t want to go to regular college; I want to study video game art.”

She plans to keep in contact with her teachers from the Art Institute, some of whom have offered to continue giving art lessons outside school.

“Closing the school would have disastrous consequences for the students,” says Kelly Knox, an adjunct instructor at the institute and paint club mentor.

He’s been teaching for 20 years and does his best to help his students navigate the unusual situation. There’s little to be done, so he refers them to the “one administrator still at the campus.”

In the meantime, he’s busy assigning midterm grades and “teaching the classes remaining this quarter to a dwindling number of students.” For his own part, job insecurity has forced him to move — “even if the school remains open.”

One bright spot: Knox is organizing a mural project for his students that’s independent of the fate of the school.

Chris Okubo studies game design at the Art Institute of Las Vegas.

Picking up the Pieces

As a veteran and recipient of the GI Bill, Chris Okubo was one of the first to get official word of the school’s planned demise.

“It’s been a slow, weird trickle of information,” says the 25-year-old game-design student and former Army medic. Okubo had been hoping to graduate with a full video game for his portfolio. Now he plans to find other avenues to reach his dreams. “But as a veteran, you have to wait until the school is officially closed,” Okubo says, “otherwise I have to pay my tuition back to the VA.”

The Nevada Commission of Postsecondary Education is preparing transfer agreements in case of the institute’s closure. It’s a painstaking process that will take weeks because negotiations involve institutions, multiple accrediting bodies and a variety of curricula that doesn’t always translate.

“Some degrees are more difficult [to transfer] than others,” Wuest said. “The Art Institute has very unique programs for Nevada. There are some programs that nobody else does.”

The negotiation process starts locally and then fans out nationally. When it’s complete, the Nevada commission will host a transfer fair. If the Art Institute remains open, the transfer capability will be an added bonus.

Students and faculty are taking up grassroots efforts to keep the institute alive. A change.org petition to “Save the Art Institute of Las Vegas” has garnered 3,654 signatures. A GoFundMe campaign has raised $570 to help save the institute via legal action.

No matter what happens, the stakes are high.

“When you shut something down, it ends up harming students,” Wuest says. “Nevada will lose programs. We’ll have things that just won’t be taught in the state.”

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Digging Deeper Into the $18M Underground House in Las Vegas

realtor.com

This house in Las Vegas will blow your mind. It isn’t built to sustain a nuclear attack, but it is built 26 feet underground. And the subterranean structure is designed to make residents feel as if they’re in a normal home with a yard, grass, swimming pool, trees, and murals painted to look like landscaping and the horizon.

It comes with an equally mind-bending price: $18 million. The price seems a bit aggressive, considering that the property last changed hands in 2015 for $1,150,000.

Did the current owners remodel it? Did they add secret spy gear? Or is the price simply a typo?

It’s nothing of the sort, according to listing agent Stephan LaForge of BHHS Nevada Properties.

"The price reflects the price to rebuild," he explains. If an enterprising builder wanted to replicate this one-of-a-kind property in 2019, it would be nearly impossible.

LaForge says it would cost at least $18 million to dig a third-of-an-acre hole and reinforce it with a half-mile of solid-steel I-beams. Then you must factor in all the other features and amenities the bunker contains.

Lawn realtor.com

The property’s current owners paid cash for the acre lot a little over four years ago. It has a five-bedroom, six-bathroom house (with pool!) underground, and a small townhouse above ground.

They’ve added some essentials, including repeaters that allow cellphone reception, cable, and internet below ground. They also replaced all eight air-conditioning units (you need to have plenty of fresh air down there!) and added a 1,000-gallon water tank, among other infrastructure improvements.

Front entry realtor.com

Still, the retreat isn’t ideal for a prepper paradise—if the outdoor air is contaminated, the air below ground will be as well. And there isn’t much in this world strong enough to protect you from a nuclear bomb, should one land in your vicinity.

———

Watch: We’re Crazy for This Detroit Home’s Insane Decor

———

Although it isn’t completely disaster-proof, what the property does offer is more than 15,000 square feet of underground space.

The space is dotted with artificial trees, faux rocks, and hand-painted murals of lifelike scenery. The lights below ground can be adjusted to reflect the sunlight at different times of the day, and there are twinkling stars on the ceiling to approximate the night sky.

Kitchen view at "night" realtor.com
Lifelike mural realtor.com

For fun, there’s a four-hole putting green, two hot tubs, a sauna, dance floor, bar, barbecue (should you be bold enough to use it), and the aforementioned swimming pool.

Pool realtor.com

The main residence has two bedrooms and three bathrooms, and just about everything a typical ’70s-era house would have, including a built-in bar and a pink-accented kitchen.

Looking from the outside in realtor.com
Bar realtor.com
Kitchen realtor.com

You don’t need a garage underground, but there is an additional casita for guests. There’s plenty of room to park on the surface, and the underground level is then reached by elevator or stairs.

Casita realtor.com
Above-ground house and parking realtor.com

So who’s responsible for this fascinating property? Jerry Henderson, a businessman and philanthropist who was a director of Avon Products, built it in 1979, and since then the period decor of the underground area has been well-preserved.

Henderson was a noted underground living enthusiast, and sponsored an Underground Home exhibit at the New York World’s Fair.

Pool realtor.com

When Henderson died in 1983, his wife no longer desired the subterranean life. She had a townhouse built on the property’s surface, where she lived until she died in 1989. The property changed hands a time or two and eventually wound up in foreclosure.

View of the pink bedroom realtor.com

Along came the Society for the Preservation of Near Extinct Species, a secretive group with the goal of promoting human life extension. An underground bunker seemed like a perfect fit for the group.

Society President Mark Voelker, who lives above ground in the townhouse, told LaForge the property has become quite the tourist attraction. The property’s website, UndergroundHouse.Vegas, also helps to whip up interest.

Authentic lighting realtor.com

So if the property won’t protect against a full-on attack on Vegas, what will a new owner do with the place? LaForge has some ideas.

He suggests a new owner could iron out zoning issues, build a parking lot on top, and then use it for a special events location.

"You could have a rave down there and no one would hear you," he says. He adds it would be perfect as a home for people who are allergic to sunlight or people who want the ultimate in privacy. Even so, "It’s more like a novelty," he says, "an attraction."

Overhead view of the lot realtor.com

And although Las Vegas is full of attractions, this one, located only about 2.5 miles from the Strip, would certainly be unique. We’ve never seen anything like it!

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning writer who covers lifestyle, entertainment, real estate, design, and travel. Find her on AtHomeInHollywood.com.

The realtor.com® editorial team highlights a curated selection of product recommendations for your consideration; clicking a link to the retailer that sells the product may earn us a commission.

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Las Vegas park welcomes federal workers, families for picnic

Federal worker Linda Fritz-Langston, a tax payer advocate, attend the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The free event was created for families of government workers impacted by the shutdown. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco
Ryan Greig, 7, with his father Kevin, a TSA manager, take a photo with Las Vegas police mounted officers Mike Torsiello, left, and Maile Hanks, during the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The free event was created for families of government workers impacted by the shutdown. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco
Magician John Rotellini, right, performs a trick for Ryan Greig, 7, with his father Kevin, a TSA manager, during the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The free event was created for families of government workers impacted by the shutdown. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco

Lainie Mello with Balloons With a Twist makes a balloon for Yesenia Chavez, 9, during the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The free event was created for families of government workers impacted by the shutdown. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco
Lainie Mello with Balloons With a Twist makes a balloon for a child during the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The free event was created for families of government workers impacted by the shutdown. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco
People attend the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The free event was created for families of government workers impacted by the shutdown. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco
Volunteer Nic Lynn serves food during the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The free event was created for families of government workers impacted by the shutdown. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco
Magician John Rotellini, right, performs a trick for Ryan Greig, 7, with his father Kevin, a TSA manager, during the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The free event was created for families of government workers impacted by the shutdown. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco
Ryan Greig, 7, with his father Kevin, a TSA manager, play games during the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The free event was created for families of government workers impacted by the shutdown. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco
Nicole Butler of North Las Vegas helps unload food during the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. Butler’s husband is a TSA managers who has not received a paycheck during the government shut down. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco
Volunteer Chris Enciso of Las Vegas helps unload food during the Open Up for Those Shut Down picnic at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. The free event was created for families of government workers impacted by the shutdown. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Erik_Verduzco
All lanes open after rollover crash on I-15 in Las Vegas
Red Flag exercises, involving 80 aircraft, begin in Las Vegas

TSA manager Kevin Grieg hadn’t missed a day of work during the partial federal government shutdown. In fact, he worked overtime, despite not knowing when he would next be paid.

But for a few hours on Saturday under the warm Las Vegas sun at Sunset Park, 2601 E. Sunset Road, the financial hardship suffered during the 35-day shutdown was the least of his worries.

That’s because from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., federal government employees and their families enjoyed free food, games and entertainment at the south valley park — an event that came together in just nine days thanks to self-proclaimed “RV explorer” Forest Williams, Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson and London Kirkham, CEO of private jet charter NV Jets.

On Friday, President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats reached agreement to reopen the government for three weeks while the White House and Congress continue negotiations on border security, including the contentious issue of a border wall.

The agreement would allow 800,000 federal workers, including 3,500 in Nevada, to go back to work and to collect back pay following the 35-day government shutdown. While the shutdown is over for at least three weeks, it’s unclear how long it will take for affected workers to get their back pay.

“We’re really on a tight budget, so this is great,” Grieg said as his wife, Nicole, and their 7-year-old son Ryan, played a carnival game. “We don’t want to do anything because we don’t know when the next check is coming in.”

Saturday’s carnival games, face painters and balloon artists were donated by Michele Rothstein, CEO of Balloons with a Twist. She found out about the event just two days earlier, when Kirkham had reached out, seeking her company’s services.

“I had been looking for a way to give back to the federal workers affected by the shutdown,” she said, “so when London called, I got on it.”

But the idea really started earlier in the week with Williams, who said he was inspired by a friend in Maryland who opened her home to feed hungry federal workers. By Saturday, his vision had evolved into an event that spanned across the park’s entire Aspen picnic grounds.

While setting up at the park early Saturday, Williams said, a man approached him, curious about what he was doing.

“And when I told him, he pulled $10 out of his wallet and gave it to me,” Williams said, scratching his beard. “I mean, how cool is that? That’s really the spirit of what we’re doing here today.”

But, he said, without the help of Clark County and Gibson, “this event would have died on Monday.”

Williams had been struggling to find a venue for the event, but as soon as Gibson had heard about it, he said he jumped on it to ensure it would go on as planned.

“No matter what side we’re on, at the end of the day, all we can do is see if we can’t lessen the adverse impact on families,” Gibson said Saturday. “They’re our neighbors. They live here. So that’s what we got to do.”

Meanwhile, a couple of picnic tables away from Gibson, Linda Fritz-Langston, an employee of the IRS’ Taxpayer Advocate Service, took her 8-year-old granddaughter out for a day at the park, thinking she’d find “just a couple small barbecues and some board games.”

“I think this is wonderful. I can’t believe someone would do this for us,” she said, holding a pink balloon animal twisted into the shape of a cat, while her granddaughter munched on lunch. “It’s overwhelming. Every dollar I can save counts. The community really came out and they’re helping.”

As families started to pour into the park for the event, Williams looked around, and said, “This was really a grassroots-type effort. It started with a few volunteers.”

“Now look at this,” he said.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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Las Vegas Housing Outlook: Big Home-Price Gains in 2019 and 2020?

Welcome to the Home Buying Institute’s Las Vegas Housing Market Outlook for 2019 to 2020. This report was created to give home buyers, investors, and real estate agents some idea of what to expect in 2019, in terms of local housing trends. (See disclaimers below.)

Las Vegas Housing Market ‘Poised to Rule’ in 2019

In January, realtor.com® included Las Vegas in its list of “10 Surprising Housing Markets Poised to Rule in 2019.” To come up with their list (which also included Phoenix, Miami and Boston), the group’s research team looked at the number of sales of existing homes and their prices, along with the amount of new home construction in the 100 largest metro areas in the country.

They analyzed “the local economies of each area, along with population trends, unemployment rates, median household incomes, and other factors.”

Based on their analysis, the group stated that Las Vegas is one of several real estate markets where both the number of home sales and prices are expected to jump in 2019, bucking the national slowdown trend.

A couple of points about this ranking:

We also forecast that the Las Vegas real estate market will outperform the nation as a whole in 2019, in terms of home-price appreciation. But there’s an important trend that was left out of this particular study. The Las Vegas housing market is indeed cooling down. There’s more inventory available today, and that will likely lead to smaller home-price gains in 2019 than what we saw in 2018.

With that being said, Las Vegas is still a strong and active real estate market. And it will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future. We expect home prices in this market to rise more than the national average in 2019. Given the current supply-and-demand situation in the area, it would not be surprising to see the median home value in Las Vegas climb somewhere between 6% and 8% during 2019.

Home Prices Past, Present and (Possible) Future

Home prices in Las Vegas rose steadily over the last few years, outpacing the national average. (Of course, prices in this market declined harder and faster than the nation as a whole during the last housing crash, and that certainly plays a role in the rapid rise we are seeing today.) The difference is that the current run-up in prices is a bit more sustainable, being driven more by supply and demand instead of rampant speculation.

As of January 2019, the median home value in Las Vegas was around $277,000.

Home prices in Las Vegas have more than doubled from the low-water market set in 2012, but they still haven’t reached the peak set during the previous housing boom. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. The price peak reached back in the 2000s was the result of an unsustainable bubble. So we should hope things are different this time around.

During 2018, the median home value in Las Vegas rose by around 14% according to Zillow. That was nearly double the national rate of appreciation during that same 12-month period.

The chart below shows the median home value in Las Vegas over the past ten years, according to Zillow. As you can see, prices have risen steadily over the past few years. You can also see Zillow’s positive forecast for the Las Vegas housing market through 2019 (shown in the green shaded area).

Chart: Las Vegas home prices over 10 years. Source: Zillow.

A cooling trend might actually be beneficial for Las Vegas. Back in May of 2018, Fitch Ratings ranked Las Vegas as being the most overvalued real estate market in the country. (Fitch is one of the “big three” ratings agencies, along with S&P and Moody’s.)

Forbes covered this story back in May. As Samantha Sharf wrote:

“Home prices in Las Vegas have overshot economic fundamentals, says Fitch Ratings Managing Director Grant Bailey. There are bright spots in the local economy—the population is increasing swiftly, and the price to rent a place to live isn’t increasing nearly as fast as to buy one. Those highlights, however, are not enough to support 11% growth in the Case Shiller Home Price Index for the city or to save the gamblers’ paradise from the top spot on the latest Fitch ranking … of the most overvalued housing markets in America.”

At the end of 2018, the property analytics company CoreLogic also reported that the Las Vegas real estate market was overvalued, based on its analysis. So a slowdown in price growth might be a good thing at this point.

Housing Inventory on the Rise

There’s good news for home buyers who are planning to enter the Las Vegas housing market in 2019. Real estate inventory (i.e., the number of homes listed for sale) has increased over the past few months.

This means that buyers who make a purchase in 2019 could have more properties to choose from — and maybe a bit less competition as well. Some forecasts suggest that housing inventory in Las Vegas could continue to grow throughout the year.

Inventory in Las Vegas “bottomed out” at around 1.9 months in July. It then rebounded to around 3.7 months at the end of 2018.

According to economists, a 5- or 6-month supply of homes is considered to be a “balanced” real estate market. So back in the summer of 2018, Las Vegas was looking like a seller’s market in terms of inventory. But it’s beginning to shift more toward “neutral” territory.

The growth in for-sale inventory became apparent at the end of 2018. According to the Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS®, about 10,000 single-family homes were on the market at the end of November 2018. About 7,000 of them hadn’t had a single offer yet. That marked a 54% increase in inventory from a year earlier.

The bottom line to all of this is that there were more homes listed for sale at the start of 2019 than there were during 2017 and (most of) 2018.

Population Growth Increases Demand for Homes

You can’t talk about Las Vegas housing market forecasts and trends without looking at the population. It’s an important factor on the demand side of the equation. And the population in Las Vegas can be summed up with two words: gradual growth.

The state of Nevada’s population rose above 3 million last year. In December, The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Nevada’s population increased by almost 62,000 people (or about 2.1 percent) between July 2017 and July 2018.

In Las Vegas itself, the population was around 631,676 in 2018. That was about 10% higher than in 2010. So there has been steady growth in Las Vegas, as well as in the state of Nevada as a whole.

This kind of trend increases demand for housing, on both the rental and purchase side. It also helps to sustain home prices over time.

A Stronger Job Market

Employment is another important consideration for home buyers. This is true for investors as well as “regular” buyers who plan to occupy the homes they purchase. In short, a strong local job market gives buyers the financial means to purchase a home, and to keep up with their mortgage payments.

And there’s good news here as well. While Las Vegas’s unemployment rate is still higher than the national average (as of January 2019), it has improved steadily since the post-recession years.

The chart below is based on data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The gray shaded area that starts around 2008 indicates the country’s recession. As you can see, the unemployment rate in the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise metro area skyrocketed from 2009 to 2010. But starting in 2011, it began to steadily decline as the local economy gained jobs.

Unemployment rate in Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada

Disclaimers: This article contains housing market forecasts and predictions for the Las Vegas real estate market through 2019 and into 2020. Such predictions are the equivalent of an educated guess and should not be considered financial advice.

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