How I Bought a House in Las Vegas

The year was 2004. The season was summer. The place was Las Vegas. The price of a decent house was astronomical. This is a story about how all that changed in just five years.

Sold sign on houseiStockPhoto/sjlocke

Not that we didn’t buy a house during that time. We did. In 2005 we purchased the home we’ve lived in for more than four years in the Water Street District of Henderson. We still own that house because it’s in a good location and the area is definitely full of life and energy. Check out my article on Townsite Homes to learn more about that up-and-coming district. The only problem we have with Henderson is that it is a long way from where my wife and I ended up working after we moved here. My commute from Henderson takes more than an hour a day, and Tami’s drive is often even longer. In flush times, people were talking about commuting from Mesquite, 90 miles north of Las Vegas, but with the price of fuel and the general economic doldrums today, a long commute no longer seems like such a good idea.

Determined to shorten our travel times, Tami and I set out to find a larger house at a price we could afford. Two years ago that was a pipe dream, but as of April 1, it has become a reality. Here’s how it all worked out.

When we first visited Las Vegas there was a lot of affordable housing around. We didn’t buy a house, though, because we had no thought of ever moving here. If I told you that we have regretted our lack of interest at that time I’d be understating the truth by quite a bit. By the time we did decide to move here, things were in a hot flux, as the housing bubble grabbed hold of Las Vegas with a vengeance. We found a place to live, but it was small. A few months later, our landlord rented us a larger house, which he later decided to sell. We bought it, thinking it might be our only opportunity to get into the housing market in Nevada. It worked out, because old Henderson is an interesting and exciting place to live, but then our jobs turned out to be miles and miles away from our house. In my case, the short way is almost 18 miles, and the fast way is a bit over 20.

This year we noticed that things were different. House prices, which had been stratospheric for all the time we’d lived here, suddenly became quite reasonable – seemingly overnight. For those lucky enough to have the means, it became a great time to buy a house in Las Vegas.

Our house search started when Tami decided to write an article on older neighborhoods in the valley. Her research led her to Jack LeVine, who maintains a very entertaining blog at Tami asked Jack to show us a couple of foreclosed homes she’d found on the Web. He did, and they were nice enough, but neither grabbed us. Then Jack showed us his “beige-on-beige” house, which he’d featured on his blog. We went through it, and then went through it again. We admired the swimming pool, green though it was. We admired the four bedrooms and the double ovens in the kitchen. Mostly we admired the huge amount of extra space the house would afford us. We made an offer.

Then came the inspection. An inspector, as you know, isn’t likely to accentuate the positive, and this guy was no exception. The AC was on the fritz. The pool needed new concrete. The house was settling in one corner. Don’t ask me about those ovens! We agonized and sweated, then we backed out.

Jack showed us a couple of more houses. They were really nice, and we came close to making an offer on one, and did make an offer on a short sale, which months later has resulted in no response from the seller’s bank. Finally, after a couple of weeks of this, and after seeing several nice and a couple of not-all-that-nice houses, we made another offer on the “beige-on-beige” house. We asked the owners to fix the AC. They already had. I know, because I tried it at the time and it worked. With luck, it will keep working, because summer is coming. After a couple more weeks of agonizing and sweating, what do you know, we had a deal!

We were pre-approved for more money than we needed to borrow, so once the appraisal came in (for more than we were paying, not to mention borrowing) it was only a matter of getting the documents in order and our beige-on-beige dream house is all ours! We’ll move in as soon as a few upgrades are completed. Our new mortgage, by the way, is smaller than our existing one.

See? It’s easy to buy a house in Las Vegas. It just takes five years and a bit of patience and luck plus an excellent real estate agent. If you are at all inclined to buy into the market in Southern Nevada, I doubt that there will ever be a better time for you to do so than now.

It’s like they say in Economics 101: Buy low, sell high. The time is right in Las Vegas for step one.


8 responses on “How I Bought a House in Las Vegas

  1. Why you bought the house seems more important that how you bought the house. I like your enthusiasm and optimism for a turn-around in the local economy, Steve.

  2. Air conditioning and a pool! Here’s to a summer of no more agonizing and no more sweating. I’m blowing up my water wings as soon as it hits eighty five.

  3. No real comment. After all, I wrote this thing. Really, I’m just checking my gravatar.

  4. I am seeing houses in Henderson that were intended to be selling for 300,000 priced at less than 100K ! Some of which haven’t ever been lived in because they were built in 2007! At those prices anyone would have to at least look a little closer. The way I see it, even if you ended up selling it for much less then you paid for it, it would still be a lot more then you would be getting back if you were paying rent the whole time.

  5. As hummm says, there are some incredible bargains out there right now. It will bounce back eventually, so this is the greatest opportunity many may ever have to get a house they never dreamed they could live in.


  6. We are looking to buy Multi Units in Nevada.

    We want to live there too…

    Noe sure about the rental market though…

    Anyone care to share that really knows and is an investor?


  7. Well, Tone,

    I think you should contact Jack LeVine ( He got us into our nice house and he’s been in Vegas long enough to know everything about everybody. I’m betting he can help you out.


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