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Buyers snapping up condos in hot Southern Nevada market

Updated June 14, 2021 - 11:28 am

The condo near Sunset Park looks like a run-of-the-mill unit in Las Vegas, offering two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fireplace and a balcony.

But when it went up for sale last month, listing broker Ron Stanfield recalled, “the offers started pouring in early.”

The one-level unit went under contract with a buyer less than a week after it went on the market — and sold for $20,000 over the asking price, its listing history shows.

“It’s a crazy market,” said Stanfield, owner of SPI Real Estate.

Southern Nevada’s housing market is dominated by single-family homes, by far the most popular choice for buyers. But there are also plenty of condos and townhouses, which tend to be less expensive and have also sold rapidly and commanded higher prices amid Las Vegas’ monthslong homebuying frenzy.

“That market’s just as red hot,” said Tony Vane, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties.

Record-setting deal

Real estate pros say first-time buyers and others are drawn to attached homes in large part because of the lower prices, especially if those buyers are priced out of the single-family market, which has been flooded with house hunters and is seeing record-high prices practically every month.

On the resale side, the median sales price of single-family homes was $385,000 last month, up 22.2 percent from a year earlier, compared with $205,000 for condos and townhomes, up 10.8 percent, according to trade association Las Vegas Realtors, or LVR.

“It is the price range that is most attainable,” said broker Tamra Trainer of Platinum Real Estate Professionals.

Condos also draw investors and second-home buyers, including in luxury towers on or near the Strip, where units can sell for a fortune.

Brokerage firm Elite Realty announced this month that it sold a nearly 13,000-square-foot penthouse, occupying the entire top floor of The Martin condo tower, for $16.25 million.

It was one of the most expensive home sales in Las Vegas history and, according to Elite, the highest sales price ever in Nevada for a condo.

‘Buying anything and everything’

Condos and townhouses make up a minority of home sales in Southern Nevada. With a freestanding house, people get a backyard, possibly with room for a pool; don’t share walls with their neighbors; and probably would have a larger set of prospective buyers if they decide to sell.

Still, as cheap borrowing costs let buyers lock in lower monthly payments and stretch their budgets, fueling a buying binge in Las Vegas and across the country, demand for single-family houses has gone into overdrive in Southern Nevada.

But people are getting priced out, said Platinum Real Estate’s Trainer, and attached homes are getting plenty of attention.

Buyers picked up 911 previously owned condos and townhomes last month, down 11 percent from April but up nearly 145 percent from May of last year, after the coronavirus pandemic sparked sweeping business closures and sharp drops in home sales amid the turmoil, according to LVR data.

Trainer said that it’s now common for attached homes to sell over the asking price and that sellers are fielding multiple offers soon after their property goes up for sale, just like in the market for single-family houses.

Plus, with Southern Nevada rental prices rising at one of the fastest rates in the nation, and mortgage rates at historically low levels, tenants can buy a condo or townhome at a lower monthly payment than their rental rate, said Vane, of Berkshire Hathaway.

As sales have climbed, available inventory has dropped sharply, too. Just 529 condos and townhomes were listed without offers at the end of last month, up 1.9 percent from April but down 70.1 percent from last May, LVR reported.

“People are buying anything and everything right now,” Vane said.

‘Not having a hard time with anything’

RE/MAX Advantage agent Stephen West, who recently sold a condo off Lake Mead Boulevard near Buffalo Drive, said he received three offers for the unit within days of listing it.

“I really thought I was going to get more,” he said, noting he received five to six offers on another condo in a three-day period this year.

Realty One Group agent Fred Trujillo said he showed a townhome recently, and, as he was walking out, another agent came through the door. She told him her offer for the place had been accepted — at $37,000 over the asking price.

Scott Beaudry, owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Universal, said he always has felt houses are better investments than attached homes, unless a buyer can get a good deal on a condo.

“But no one’s getting a really good price right now,” he added.

In the homebuilding market, buyers closed 686 purchases of condos and townhomes this year through April, up 31 percent from the same stretch last year, according to figures from Las Vegas housing tracker Andrew Smith, president of Home Builders Research.

The median sales price for newly built attached homes, more than $309,800 in April, was up 11.5 percent from a year earlier and marked “the first time in recent memory” that it surpassed $300,000, Smith reported.

Smith noted the valley’s homebuilding market is dominated by single-family houses, but amid the surge of demand for residential real estate across Southern Nevada, there is no sign that builders are selling condos and townhomes at a slow pace.

“They’re not having a hard time with anything,” Smith said.

‘An incredible project for us’

Taylor Morrison Home Corp., developer of the Affinity condo and townhouse complex in Summerlin, has been selling units there within a few days of releasing them, on pace with its single-family housing tracts, according to Rob Evon, Las Vegas area sales manager for the builder.

He noted Affinity is a higher-end project with prices starting in the high $400,000-range and said it draws second-home buyers, newcomers to Las Vegas and move-up buyers.

Taylor Morrison inherited the project from original developer William Lyon Homes as part of its acquisition of the company. According to Evon, Taylor Morrison has sold about 100 units at Affinity since it closed the corporate buyout in early 2020.

“It’s been an incredible project for us,” he said. “We would definitely do it again.”

Still, the typical condo around Las Vegas sells for much less than the homes at Affinity.

One unit, on Decatur Boulevard near Lake Mead Boulevard, recently sold for $135,000. It spans 945 square feet, offers two bedrooms and two bathrooms and came with fresh paint.

Signature Real Estate Group agent Lisia Owens, who represented the buyer, said they had been working since February to buy a place. Her client made offers on about 20 different homes, and this was the first one accepted.

Asked if her client was happy, Owens said: “She literally cried.”

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

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