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Archive for June, 2008

A Game With No Rules – Real Estate In Las Vegas

I’m  writing this post to make the point that it’s still worthwhile to buy real estate, but that the rules of the game are constantly changing. It’s not as easy as it once was. It has to be treated as a game. Winning the game has enormous rewards, though. Besides the obvious eternal reasons for home ownership (pride, tax savings, pay yourself, build equity, control of how you live, no landlord, etc), there’s terrific opportunity to get into a home at prices we haven’t seen in 3 years.

You’re going to need help from a great agent, a great lender, and maybe even a great therapist before it’s all over. But it’s WORTH THE TROUBLE, and you might even get one of the easy transactions where everything is predictable and goes the way it’s supposed to.

Yes, they do happen, but not as often as they used to. In my 20 years of selling real estate and and consulting with buyers and sellers, I used to have a problem of some sort on maybe 1 out of 10 deals. Usually we’d get it fixed, and overall only about 1 in 20 had serious complications, and only about 1 in 50 where things couldn’t get fixed and actually fell apart all together.

Those numbers have changed dramatically. Buyers, sellers agents and lenders  need to be wearing their track shoes. Everyone has to be prepared to punt. All of us will need a lot patience and flexibility. The banks, whether they’re the seller or the lender, aren’t making it easy. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s worth pursuing.

I’ve spent 20 years figuring it all out. How to negotiate. How to promote, and market listings. Knowing what the buyer will buy before they do. Common business courtesy. Pricing strategies. Contract clauses. FHA “livability” Standards,  Rules of Law. Checklists.

All of it for naught in this market. Everyone is just making it all up as they go along. Every listing, every agent, every brokerage, every deal is a new variation of the game of real estate. But that’s what makes life exciting. When things zig, I’m always ready to zag.

For example:

I thought the banks were putting ridiculously low prices on properties to get bidding war going. Except,  I just made a deal on one of them last week that was accepted below the ridiculously low low list price. We were the only bidder. At that price I thought there would be a dozen. The buyer would have bought it for 30 or 40,000 more than what it was listed for.

I submitted an offer on a property last week that wasn’t a foreclosure. I emailed it last Sunday, 8 days ago. I faxed it in on Tuesday because the listing agent hadn’t returned my 3 calls on Sunday and Monday.  I started calling the broker on Wednesday, who says he can’t reach the agent, and doesn’t have a phone number for the seller, who lives in Michigan. We’re frustrated but we’re ready to start over.

5 counter offers on a bank owned property, and each counter took 4 or 5 days to get a response. The final form the bank sent over was never presented with the first counter. It has a clause in it that says that the “contract is not binding on the seller. The seller can cancel at anytime and for any reason and return the earnest money to the buyer”.  The listing agent says “it’s just routine”. HUH? Will the buyer sign it? Will the bank take the deal with that clause removed? I’ll know today.

The bank evicted the former owner after the trustee sale. The former owner’s wife had moved away and filed for divorce and wasn’t on title in the first place. The title company says they won’t give title insurance until she signs a paper for them. I think trustee sale wiped out any claim she might have had. Buyer’s ready to go and the bank/seller can’t provide clear title. HUH?

The mortgage company approved the buyer loan. The buyer signed the loan docs. The funder says they don’t want to do the loan anymore. The seller moved out yesterday. There’s a terrific house on Zane Circle back on the market today, btw (not my listing or my buyer, I just got a call since I’d shown the house a couple of times). Something  similar happened on Susan and Steve’s deal, but we got a new lender and it closed Friday. I’m hearing this story a lot lately.

The buyer said he had the money for the down payment. We made the deal, but when we went to verify the funds, it had just miraculously shown up as a big deposit in his account. Turns out it was really a loan from the parents. The parents wouldn’t sign a “gift letter” that said he didn’t have to pay it back. Deal dead. Sometimes buyers cause their own problems.

Short Sales (where the bank is owed more than the house is worth) is another whole ball of wax. There’s a huge catch 22. The bank won’t tell in advance what they’ll take as a payoff without an offer on the table. The bank won’t decide if the seller is even eligible for a short sale till there’s an offer on the table. To get an offer, it has to be priced as if it’s already a foreclosure, so the price isn’t a real price after all. Only about 5% of the short sale listings that get an offer actually get closed, but short sales make up about 30% of the inventory. I think they shouldn’t even be allowed in the MLS until the bank has agreed to accept XXX dollars. 

What have we learned?

Hire a great full time agent. Hire a great full time lender.

Be patient and forgiving and flexible.

If you’re in a hurry or have a tight deadline, avoid the short sales and foreclosures.

Have your loan fully in place before you start looking. Lock your interest rate at the first possible moment.   

Have a back up plan ready just in case there’s last minute delays or problems.

Don’t be attached to the outcome, especially during the negotiating period.

Lots of deals are closing without even a hiccup,  but a lot more than usual require a lot of extra work and a lot of extra zig zagging. I’m up for it, and you ought to get in line while the getting is this good. Give me a call.


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First Friday, A Massive Cocktail Party and The FOURTH OF JULY Fireworks


First, YOU’RE INVITED to a very special and very unique cocktail party at the top of the WORLD MARKET CENTER. Very Vintage Vegas is one of the many sponsors of this fundraiser for Nevada Aids Project.

World Market CenterIt’s being held in the Penthouse from 8 to 11 pm. Admission is free. The proceeds from the no host bar are all being donated to NAP. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres are being donated by Trader Joe’s and Renaissance Catering .

Short of going to the strip to watch the tourists, this may well be the best opportunity ever to mix it up with an amazingly diverse group of people. Las Vegas Home and Design Magazine has invited their list. The Sin City Q Social Network will have a couple of hundred gay guys attending. Employees, customers and staff of the WMC are all invited, and SO ARE YOU!

Since I’m a minor sponsor, my Very Vintage Vegas Readers as well as all residents of the historic neighborhoods of Las Vegas are also invited.  

(UPDATE – ADULTS ONLY– Reservations ARE NOT REQUIRED, But You will need ID at the door. )

Views of all the 9pm and 9:30 pm fireworks displays should be spectacular from the 16th floor patios.

The new parking garage is open, but you can park in the First Friday lot in the Clark County Government Center, take the shuttle bus to First Friday for an hour or 2 and come back to the cocktail party.


Classic Las Vegas has been compiling a list of the various fireworks displays. Many of them will be best viewed from the cocktail party. Many of them will be visible from your front or back yard if you live in Vintage Vegas.

The list has been updated to include The Las Vegas Hilton and Caesar’s Palace as well as six of the Station Casino locations.

Maggie Shadow and BayleyI’ll be at the top of the WMC with the whole VVV gang. MaryJoy, Pam, Steve, Susan and I will all be there.  Come out and meet us. It’ll be a blast.

However, Maggie, Shadow and Bayley, will be at home having their annual nervous breakdown,


First Friday In The Downtown Las Vegas Arts District Will Be A Spectacular Event This Month

There’s always something special at First Friday. Click the link to get the whole run down. This month the new Casino Center Street Scape is finished and there’s 10 new galleries, bars and venues that have opened in the last month.

Live entertainment this month includes:

The LAND ROVER STAGE   features

6-6:30pm  Mike Graves Trio (Vintage Rock)

6:30-8pm –  Dr Popsicle and the hair painted opera (Solo Acoustic)  Matthew Winters  (Solo Acoustic)   Brandon Rojas  (Solo Acoustic)

8-9pm   The Let Up (Indy Rock)

9-10pm   Inhale (Reggae, Rock, Ska)

Vista IV performing at Casino Center and California next to the Box Office; Break dancers provide more entertainment on Colorado near Main St. and the Tango Dancers on Casino Center near California.

3 things that we’ve been promoting should not be missed. Beneath The Neon, the Exhibit is at the Contemporary Arts Collective in the Arts Factory. Next Door in the AF is Lost Vegas with it’s vintage clothing, and Retro Vegas on Main Street has an amazing collection of Vintage home furnishings.



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Worst MLS Photo Of The Day – Paranormal Abnormalities Do Not Need To Be Disclosed In Nevada

If the spirit moves you....Nevada law does not require the disclosure of ghosts. I’m told that California requires it, but we don’t seem to believe in them in Nevada.

If an agent or seller does have material knowledge, and is specifically asked, then they would have to answer honestly. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a preemptive disclosure.



The only thing worse than a bad picture is NO PICTURES AT ALL!

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Beneath The Neon- The Exhibition

IMG_5348I’m encouraging you to see a side of Las Vegas that few ever get the chance to see. In case you don’t, here’s some of the pictures that I took last night when I could find a clear shot between all the people who came out for the opening.






IMG_5340Five of the grafitti artists who have been painting in the tunnels for years, and worked so hard in helping to re-create the tunnels, were in attendance. From left to right are: Akuser, Ruckoh, Ruckoh’s Girlfriend, Dares and Dink. Good kids with a passion for street art. Their fondest dream is that the city or county would designate places for them to be able to paint. There was lots of talk among the “grown-ups” for finding a way to make that happen.





IMG_5355The reason you need to see this for yourself, is evident if you watch the video that’s playing of Matt O’Brien’s actual journey thru the tunnels. In the separate museum room are the video, the displays and pictures and maps of the tunnel system.

For times and location, visit the Contemporary Arts Collective website.

The rest of the photo’s are below the fold. Click on the “read the rest of this story” button below.




Read the rest of this entry »

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Urban Living In Las Vegas

Yes, we have unique charming homes on bigger lots in Vintage Vegas. Yes, the commute times to the strip and downtown and UNLV and Airport jobs are extremely low. Yes, there’s history and folklore about the vintage neighborhoods. 

But there’s something else. There’s knowing your neighbors. There’s a sense of being part of something bigger than any one house. There’s an ever growing art and music scene. There’s Mom and Pop stores and restaurants. There’s cultural diversity. 

IMG_5352Last night, the crowds that attended the Dust Gallery Neighborhood Party and the new galleries of the west wing of the Arts Factory and the Grand Opening of “Beneath The Neon” certainly made the point. Hundreds of people came out. But they didn’t come from the suburbs (well, a few of them did), but they mostly came from the Vintage Vegas Neighborhoods. They ran into people they know. They got introduced to people they ought to know. They went home feeling good about the people as well as the art.

We have neighborhood meetings that people actually attend. There’s email thread lists for almost every neighborhood association. There’s many more readers of Very Vintage Vegas than even I know about. I met at least a dozen of you for the first time last night who introduced themselves. Someone that Mary Joy met told her “that the people who don’t live in Vintage Vegas don’t know what they’re missing”.

To be a part of all of that, you need to proactively decide that you want to participate. Join a club. Volunteer for an organization. Get involved with a block watch or neighborhood association. Go buy some art at First Friday. Go know on a few neighbors doors and say hello. Leave a comment occasionally on this blog. Eat a meal at one of the small restaurants and talk to the other patrons as well as the shop owners.

It’s a lot of fun living in Vintage Vegas if you’ll get out of your home. Lots of us are doing it. Then it won’t be just about your short commute, or your charming home, or your historic neighborhood. It’ll be about an urban lifestyle that’s full of fun, diversity, culture, and neighborliness.

Give it a try. We welcome you.

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Who Did A Good Job For You? We Need Your Contractor Recommendations

It’s the number one thing that people ask me for. “Who do you know that’s a good (fill in the blank)?

I’ve got a list of my own, but I seem to be overwhelming some of them, and we need back ups. For example, my best handiman is already booked solid for the next 4 weeks.

We especially have a need for the companies that have done right by you in the following categories, but anyone you want to give a plug to will be helpful.


Window Replacement

Concrete Slab Repair or Replace

General Contractors for room additions and serious remodel.

Landscape (install and routine maintainance)

We also want to have referals for:

Plumbers, electricians, painters,  handimen, carpenters, roofing, pool maintainance, pool replastering etc.

Don’t just give me names from the phone book. If you or someone you know well has hasn’t used them, or wouldn’t use them again, we don’t want to know about them.

Feel free to use the comments, or you can call me at 378–7055 or email me at [email protected] 

Please make sure to give your name and the property that that they worked on.

Thanks for your help.


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Worst MLS Photo Of The Day –

836979_501_22A shortage of closet space is a great feature to promote.





The only thing worse than a bad picture is NO PICTURES AT ALL!


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Drastic Price Reduction On 1700 Chapman

P4144741 - croppedIf you’ll remember, or click back here to take a look at our listing on the corner of Chapman and Oakey.

It’s truly a remarkable example of Retro Chic in a downtown mansion. It hasn’t gotten the kind of attention it deserves and those who did see it always told me that it was just too high priced. The seller now agrees, and we reduced the price yesterday by $100,000!

All of the pictures as well as all of our current listings are available to be seen in our featured property section in the left column. Of course all of our listings, as well as anything in the MLS are available to be seen in person by calling or emailing your favorite realtor (that’s me, in case you think I’m only a blogger).

Pool 1If you EVER said to yourself “why didn’t I buy something before the big price runups 2 and 3 years ago”….

Well, you’ve got a second chance. We’re absorbing the inventory, new foreclosures are slowing, the builders are barely building anything, there’s still 5000 people a month moving to Las Vegas, and there’s still 50,000 new jobs coming on line just with what’s under construction on the strip right now.

It won’t be like this for long. If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines, give me a call or send me an email.

It’s a buyer’s market IF you can get a loan. With just fair credit and a provable income, you don’t even have to have much money.

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Putting Every Last Mid Mod Sunscreen Block To Good Use

P7051103Yes, we finished the series the other day about Mid Century Modern decorative sunscreens, however, I promised you some bloopers.


I can just image their dismay when someone crashed into the wall.





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Worst MLS Photo Of The Day – If You’ve Got A View To Sell

833270_701_73Make sure to put a picture of it in the MLS.






The only thing worse than a bad picture is NO PICTURES AT ALL!

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How To Screw Up A Tin Ceiling

IMG_5261The occasional screw up series is back with a literal screw up.

To avoid embarassing anyone, I’m gathering all of these from the overly abundant bank owned properties that I’m seeing.

I vaguely mentioned this home yesterday. My client got out bid, since there were the typical multiple offers. That’s what happens when a bank puts a price tag of 189,000 on a home that should have been about 300k.


But none the less, there was a tin ceiling installed in the kitchen in place of what I think was once a drop ceiling.

IMG_5262From a few feet a way, it looked really cool. Up close however, we find the screw up.








The moral…. don’t use drywall screws to screw up tin ceilings. However, if you do, then at least space them nicely.

AND… not all bank owned properties are the bargain they appear to be, since the new strategy seems to be to price them ridiculously low to generate a bidding war and get them sold quickly.

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You’re Invited ! Spend An Evening In The Arts District Of Downtown Las Vegas

Beneath the neon0001Thursday night June 26, from 6–9 pm is a special night of gallery openings. If you’d like to avoid the crowds of First Friday, then come downtown Thursday Night for 4 receptions and grand openings.

BENEATH THE NEON: The exhibition

Grand opening reception and meet and greet with Matt O’Brien, the author of the BENEATH THE NEON book which inspired the exhibition by Brian Paco Alvarez. Some of the teenage artists who provided the art will be on hand. 

I had a sneak peek of the  exhibition yesterday. I  was overwhelmed with the authenticity and the talent of the artists. Brian Paco Alvarez has re-created a segment of the “underground gallery” that exists in the storm drains beneath the strip. The book itself got lots of press coverage last year, and the Exhibition got promoted last night and this morning on Channel 1.

The artists and author and the CAC hopes that the exhibit will spark a new dialogue among the politicians and public about the grafitti problem. There’s a huge difference between Grafitti Art and gang tagging to mark territories. Grafitti Art could and should be encouraged and supported in designated places. The storm tunnels have provided one outlet for the artists, but it’s not safe, and it doesn’t get seen by the public. Grafitti Art needs to be recognized at ART. Gang bangers who tag our neighborhoods to mark their territory should be arrested. Maybe some of the taggers would find a better way to spend their time if there were safe, legal places for them to create their art.

The new WEST WING of The Arts Factory

Leslie roland art photoLeslie Rowland has named her new gallery L. ROWLAND ART.  Leslie,  Mark Diederichsen, and Steven Spann now have their own gallery spaces in the new west wing of the Arts Factory.

Their opening reception coincides with the CAC reception, and is just down the hall and around the corner from the CAC space. Make sure to drop by and congratulate them as well.




Dust Galley

Rain1Dust is holding a NEIGHBORHOOD RECEPTION at the same time on Thursday. My definition of neighborhood, of course includes all of my readers, so you’re invited as well. Dust is the ground floor of the SOHO LOFTS tower at 900 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

“Make It Rain” is the current exhibit by Curtis Fairman and Jeffrey Gibson.


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Worst MLS Photo Of The Day –

836311_601_12Grafitti, being a hot topic this week with the BENEATH THE NEON, The Exhibition opening Tomorrow at CAC, and the gasps of horror that can still be heard from this WMLSPOTD….

I’m sure the agent could have framed the photo better. Showing the covered RV space is good, but I’m sure a gang tag wouldn’t be considered a “feature”.


The only thing worse than a bad picture is NO PICTURES AT ALL!

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Getting Caught Up Until Vista Crashes Again!

Embryo-car-concept1Just for fun, take a look at some of these all electric concept cars

I joke a lot about my “never go more than 3 miles away from home” rule. One of friends asked me the other day if I needed  a passport for when I have to go to Summerlin.

The listing agent on the incredible deal in Morning View Heights that you all missed (bank owned, gorgeous and under 200k when it should have been over 300k) told me that it was priced that way because “anything over 30 years old should be torn down”.

IMG_5272The new buyer on the all original, never been been expanded Huntridge Cottage that we closed on last week found that a neighbor left him a present in the driveway. This is what we found when we showed up to give him his keys the other day. The problem is, the neighbor has no way to move it.





IMG_5273The well known local artist, Robert Curry, who painted the Huntridge Mural at Maryland and Franklin got a little carried away trying to green up his lawn. It can’t be missed on Franklin Ave. just east of Circle Park

He’s got a one man show at The Bridger Building lobby at 701 E. Bridger. It’s across the street from the Las Vegas Academy. Hours are 7am to 6pm.

Robert likes to refer to his art as Modern Optimism but you could call it Neo Pop Metaphysical Minimalism

Beneath the neon0001And last but not least, Brian Paco Alvarez, the official Cultural Historian of VVV has created the newest installation at the Contemporary Arts Collective. The grand opening reception is THIS THURSDAY FROM 6–9 pm.

It’s called “BENEATH THE NEON, Exploring another side of Vegas”  It’s based on the book by Mathew O’Brien.


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There’s Still Decorative Sunscreen Block Available For Your Retro Mid Century Modern Las Vegas Home

I recently discovered that there were names for the patterns that we’ve been discussing for the last 2 months. Some of them can still be obtained.

Allied Building Materials, at 221 West Wyoming has 2 of the patterns in stock.

1blockThe butterfly or clover design that was number 6 in our series is really called “LaCosta”. Last week they had about 300 of them in stock. They’re $4.35 apiece.



PB104056The “Cordova” which was Pattern #11 in our series is in stock at Allied. They had 51 of them in stock at the same price of $4.34 per block.



Orco Block Company in Los Angeles is the manufacturer. They still make only 6 of the patterns including the La Costa and the Cordova above. They also have the following four patterns, and Allied can get them for you.

La Fiesta


“La Fiesta” was #4 in the series, and is one of my favorites.





Starfire“Starfire” is real nice and seems to be a stretched out version of the Cordova.




VistaThe “Vista” is also available at the big box home improvement stores, though I don’t know if they get them for Orco. Vista can be found on the top row of thousands of block walls in the suburban concrete canyons.


MAR-JANAnd my new favorite, which I’ve NEVER seen in use in Las Vegas is called the MAR-JAN. Ther’s a similar suspended square in a single square block that was number 49 in the series. But I love wider double version of the Mar-Jan.



In one of the funny coincidences that happen to me all the time, I was in the middle of an email exchange with the sales manager at Orco when an email came in from Zane Donaldson. Zane sent the link to the lecture by Bill Krisel. At literaly the same moment that the Orco guy told me about Angelus Block, one of his competitors in LA, Zane sent the link and attached file with the block designs from Angelus.

Angelus Block PatternsBill Krisel mentions Angelus Block as a primary supplier of the blocks he used in the 50’s and 60’s. Their website isn’t as good as Orco, but I did call, and they do carry some of the same designs as well as a few unique ones.

Angelus doesn’t have a distributor here, but they’re a lot closer than A-1 Block in Florida, which up till now was the only place I could find at all.

So, for the more than 2 dozen readers who emailed me or left comments asking where they could obtain some of these patterns, now you have the answer. If anyone else knows of any other manufacturers anywhere in the US, I’d sure appreciate finding out about them.

That, my friends, concludes our 2 month long adventure into the “Decorative, Retro, , Historic, Mid Century Modern Block Walls and Sunscreens of Very Vintage Vegas

I thank you for indulging me, and I certainly hope it gave you a new insight into an important element of Vintage Vegas.

Just remember, when the sunscreens disappear, you’ve left Vintage Vegas.






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