First-Time Las Vegas Home Buyer Guide

Pardee Skye Canyon
Thinking about buying a first home in Las Vegas? Wondering if now is the right time to buy Las Vegas real estate and need some first-time buyer tips? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Right Time?
Is it the right time to buy a home in Las Vegas? The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors (GLVAR), reported that the median, existing single-family home sold for $267,900 in December 2017, up 14% compared to December 2016.

After many years of steady price appreciation, local Las Vegas home prices started cooling down in October 2017. That pricing trend makes Spring 2018 an ideal time to buy, but since this guide will be continuously updated to reflect the latest market data, visit often.

The median price of local condos and townhomes sold in December 2017 was $143,000, up 27% from the same time last year.

Also keep in mind that Nevada is the second fastest growing market in the nation, with a one-year population growth of 1.95%, and a 10-year growth spurt of 17%.

Stabilizing prices present an excellent opportunity for home buyers.

Where Do I Begin?
If you’re considering buying a home for the first time, you’re probably a bit overwhelmed by the idea of it all. You have to think about whether or not to use a buyer’s agent, how to secure a mortgage, and what exactly it is that you’re looking for in a home.

But the process is not as overwhelming as it might appear, you just have to take it one day, or step, at a time, as the famous saying goes.

The search for your first home can be stressful and time-consuming, so try not to tackle it all at once. Even if you haven’t decided whether or not to use a real estate agent, I would be more than happy to help you get started.

Sometimes the most crucial step is getting pointed in the right direction. If you’re interested, please call me at 702-204-0922 or email me so I can assist you during this most exciting time.

Choosing a Community or Neighborhood
Perhaps the most challenging part of the home buying process is decided where you want to live. There are so many great neighborhoods to choose from in Las Vegas that analysis paralysis could set in quickly.

Summerlin, in the western part of Las Vegas, and Inspirada and Cadence, both in Henderson, NV, and Skye Canyon in the northwestern part, ranked No. 4, 8, 22 and 47, respectively, among the Top Selling Master Planned Communities in 2017, according to data released in January 2018 by research firm RCLCO.

Another community of note is Mountains Edge, which was the fourth fastest-selling master-planned community in the country in 2013 with 841 net sales. All of the above communities feature affordable homes well-suited to first-time buyers.

Searching for the Right Home
To help your decision-making process, please visit my Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties website, which is an excellent resource. I know that’s a mouthful, but the site is worth it, despite its verbose name. 😉 BHHS continually updates the site with new and valuable information.

The Home Search feature, which I linked to here directly but which also can be found under the menu item “Property Search,” lets you filter thousands of listings based on attributes you select.

You can simply search for houses in a certain area and price range, or you can look for homes that fit your specific style. If you know you want a house with a pool, a very popular feature in Las Vegas as you can imagine, you can get the search results you’re looking for. Most real estate websites don’t offer that degree of choice.

To search for that home with a pool:

  1. Click on ‘More’ menu item on the Home Search screen.
  2. In the drop-down menu, you’ll see a small link at the bottom that says “Advanced Search.” Clicking on “Advanced Search” you may get a warning about losing previously entered data, ignore that and simply click “Proceed.”
  3. In the next dialog box, scroll the list under “Step 1. Select a Category” and choose “Pool Description” from that list.
  4. Once you select “Pool Description,” the “Step 2. Select a Feature” list changes to show all available pool types. Click on “Unground-Private,” which is probably what you want.
  5. If you click “Submit Search” at this point, you probably will get a huge list of properties, so it’s best to click “Neighborhood” at the top to narrow down your choices.

A Property Research Center account, created either with your Facebook credentials or an email address, is free and lets you save searches that best fit your needs.

You can also easily maintain lists of properties that match your criteria without having to re-enter information, and there is no limit to the number of searches you can save.

The “Favorites Folder” lets you save appealing individual listings. You can keep favorites from different searches into sub-folders, giving you the power to organize listings that interest you most.

With our New Listing Notification feature, you can receive updates via e-mail that match the criteria of saved searches, so there is no need to check back for updates. You can elect to receive notifications daily, weekly or every other week.

I always strive to make the home-buying process as smooth as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, and I would love to be of assistance.

Here are two representative starting properties currently listed with Berkshire Hathaway:

Sample Starter Homes

  • 6170 Hopeful Light Avenue ($279,000) – This three bedroom, three bathroom features a huge loft, upstairs laundry room, large kitchen island, fireplace, epoxy floor garage, floor-to-ceiling walls in this grand entrance, large pantry and built-in doggie door. Lovely community with all the amenities: pool, exercise room, BBQs, park playground, meeting room and clubhouse plus on-site security that roams the community regularly. Front landscaping is HOA maintained.
  • 10550 Alexander Road #2149 ($180,000) – Very large three-bedroom, two-bath condo located in beautiful Chateau Versailles gated community. This upper unit is equipped with a spacious living room and massive master suite. Separate laundry room with full size washer and dryer. Open kitchen with serving counter. Enjoy tranquil mountain views from the balcony. Tenant occupied, stable tenant.

Which Type of Mortgage Is Best for Me?
Getting the right mortgage is a critical step in the home buying process, but it doesn’t have to be a stress-inducing one. Most lenders offer pre-qualification, pre-approval, or both, to help you know where you stand. Let me explain the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval:

  • Pre-qualification – This is a preliminary estimate of how much you can afford to pay for a home based on information you provide. Because credit and employment information is not verified, a loan pre-qualification only provides a rough idea of monthly mortgage payments and loan size. However, this can be very useful to begin the home buying process.
  • Pre-approval – Pre-approval is a written commitment from a lender to finance your home purchase up to a set amount. This action indicates that the lender has taken a close look at your financial situation and agreed to lend you a specific amount of money, subject to settlement details, such as a final sales contract and professional inspection. Pre-approval tells sellers that you are a serious homebuyer.

Regardless of which option you choose, or even both if you so desire, you’ll be able to shop with much more confidence. Why wait until you find the perfect home to discover problems with obtaining a mortgage?

If you would like more information on how either process can help you get into the home of your dreams, give me a call. I’ll be more than happy to put you in touch with one of Berkshire Hathaway’s top financial team members.

If you would like to dive deeper into the subject matter, use this NerdWallet mortgage guide to get up to speed.

How Much Down Payment Will I Need?
A 20% down payment is considered ideal by most mortgage lenders, but qualified buyers can find mortgages with as little as 3.5% down or even no down payment. Again, there are considerations for every down payment option, so consult NerdWallet’s excellent guide to down payments.

Put a Pro On Your Side
This happens a lot: People in the market for a home become acutely aware of “For Sale” signs. Suddenly, these signs seem to pop up everywhere. You even notice them in neighborhoods you aren’t necessarily interested in.

You may find yourself stopping your car to jot down a listing agent’s phone number, then calling the agent for more info. But you should be aware that you’re now dealing with the seller’s representative — a broker’s agent who has a signed contract to represent the seller’s interests, not yours.

To have your interests professionally represented in any real estate transaction, you need an agent — a buyer’s agent. There are many reasons why you should have one.

If I represent you, I can provide you with information about a home that the seller’s agent might not want to offer. For example, you may want to know how much home equity the seller has, or why they’re selling, or whether an earlier contract fell through, or what the contracted price was and why it didn’t close. That type of information makes you a more informed buyer.

There’s lots more I can do for you as your buyer’s agent. For example, pre-screen properties that meet your necessary criteria, show you homes you’re interested in, help you find financing, and help you negotiate a purchase contract with terms and conditions that benefit you.

The best part is that, in most cases, our compensation for all these services to you would come out of the commission paid by the seller. Now, what’s not to like about that!

I hope you find this first-time buyer’s guide useful, and feel free to share the link on Facebook or Twitter; it will save you and your friends and family a lot of precious time. 🙂