According to a report released by the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors this month, the median sale price in December for a single-family home in the Las Vegas Valley was $204,000, up about 1 percent from the previous month and almost 10 percent from the previous year. It’s not as aggressive as the gains in 2012 and 2013, but still shows signs of a steadily growing and normalizing real estate market in Southern Nevada.
In Downtown Las Vegas proper (excluding the adjacent, pricier areas west of I-15), the median sale price is not just lower, but so is the median per-square-foot rate, at about $82, compared to the $109 average for the city overall. That’s no surprise, because a lot of the city’s core is composed of older, smaller homes in working-class—and yes, poorer—neighborhoods, most of them in need of some serious TLC. But as demand increases for housing close to the lifestyle amenities found Downtown, the value of even the most ramshackle properties is likely to increase as well. If you have the cash, a solid toolbox and a lot of vision, there are still some deals out there, far below the current median asking price of $95 a square foot, that could prove worthy investments.
In Francisco Park (just north of Sahara Avenue and east of Maryland Parkway), there’s a three-bedroom, two-bathroom short sale at 2312 Chapman Dr. listed at $88,400. This is a true victim of the housing bubble burst, last selling in 2007 to some starry-eyed soul for $210,000. It’s been on the market since May 2014, which doesn’t bode well (short sales are notoriously difficult transactions to navigate), but with an attached, 288-square-foot mother-in-law suite (not included in the house’s official 1,161 square feet), the house’s list price actually some out to about $61 a square foot, maybe perfect for a creative type who wants an in-house studio, or for an enterprising Airbnb landlord.
Not far from Chapman, on the eastern edge of the Huntridge area, is a 1,388-square-foot, three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom house at 1717 Sweeney Ave. that just hit the market last week, listed at $89,900. It’s an interesting listing: It’s cash-only, there are no photos and no sales records, and after digging around in the Clark County Assessor’s records, it seems that the house has been in the possession of one family since 1966, passed down throughout the years. It could be a total wreck, or it could be an all-original charmer that just needs a little restorative magic. But at just $65 a square foot, it’s worth a look, and as added incentive, the taxable assessed value of the almost 7,000-square-foot property went up from last year by about 12 percent, consistent with aforementioned market increases.
Further north, another short sale—a 1,350-square-foot home at 107 Cervantes St.—is currently listed at $70,000, down from $91,000 last September. But like the previous short sale discussed above, it’s been on the market for a very long time—two years last week, actually—and although it’s assessed value went up this year, it’s in a neighborhood not far from the eastern end of Fremont Street, which hasn’t been spritzed with internet billionaire Kool-Aid…yet. But at $52 a square foot, it could be a worthy investment, even if just as a rental property.
Likewise, on the other side of Fremont Street is a 1,066-square-foot house at 131 S. 16th St., listed at $67,800. Another potential victim of the housing crash—it last sold in 2004 for $106,500, which doesn’t sound terribly inflated, but at $100 a square foot, it was almost double what it previously sold for in 1997—it sits in the Mayfair neighborhood, which is nicely buffered from Fremont despite its proximity. There are no photos of the home interior, but the petite building does sit on an almost 7,000-square-foot lot, so maybe it truly is a “great investment property” as its listing agent claims. Then again, after 130 days on the market, maybe not.
ILLUSTRATION BY PJ PEREZ