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Archive for December, 2008

Fun Features Found in Foreclosures – A Retro Mid Mod In Paradise Palms

IMG_9413Paradise Palms is a great place to see many of the decorative concrete block patterns that we showcased all last summer.


IMG_9414Most of the Mid Century Modern (or mid mod for short) bones are still here, even if the brand new kitchen’s all granite and suburban update.

Bank owned, pretty clean as they go and only 123,900

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Worst MLS Photo Of The Day

891781_801_22This is a bedroom. Or is it????

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

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Mini Homes

I guess if we can swing from liar loans to hard to get a loan, then we can swing from McMansion to McMini. Vegas Lee sent this in, and I realized that there’s nothing new under the sun.

Jay Shafer’s been building Tiny Houses for 5 years. Some of them are portable and on wheels, and some are designed for putting on a foundation. Most of the portables that are shown are really variations of the Airstream and Pullman themes, though they intentionally look like homes instead of travel trailers.  They’re practical, energy efficient  and you won’t have to worry about house guests overstaying their visit.

The Huntridge cottages, the Westleigh bungalows, the Oakwood and Fran Park mini mods were all small functional bare bones no frill homes when they were built. Jay’s Z-glass model is a no frills modernist cube. It’s not a lifestyle for everyone, but I sell a lot of 800 to 1100 foot homes and except for the 3 dogs, the need for lots of home office space, and the rotating family roommates, I could live happily in a very small space.


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Fun Features Found In Foreclosures

There’s a lot of really fun home homes out there in our inventory. This one is from Rancho Park, at Alta and Rancho Drive.

IMG_9402It’s not in bad shape at all, and it’s not really a foreclosure, it’s just priced as if it was.

The original “pink bathrooms” which happen to be salmon colored in one and yellow in the other are in great shape, and so is the kitchen.




IMG_9393I love the jigsaw slate entry, front door and stone fireplace with matching planters.


889715_A01_133000 sf, 15000 sf lot with pool for 300,000.

A hundred dollars a square foot (give or take a small few) seems to be the new magic number.

Liveable, decent homes are down to 100 a foot. The worse the condition, the further down that number goes, as I was saying the other day.

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Worst MLS Photo Of The Day

869588_301_20And so I faced the final curtain.






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

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So I Heard This Rumor – It’s About A Vintage, Retro Huntridge Cottage In Downtown Las Vegas

Someone bought a house that was listed for 35,000. Before you go all “Damn, I could have bought THAT!” …. think about this.  It was a really beat up huntridge cottage. I think it’s been a rental for something like 40 years. At least it looks like it has.

It was of a Vintage where the windows were wooden doublehungs. They haven’t been opened in years except for with a pry bar. Even then they required a pry bar.

It’s got the original (or is that retro) kitchen and bathroom. The thing is…every piece of tile,  and every porcelain fixture is cracked or chipped. The cabinets are beat up. The plumping is original galvanized pipe. No one ever updated it.

No one bothered to dig out the concrete floor when it started humping. It’s standard re-hab work and not all that terrific of a task when the house is empty, but it’s  a real pain when you’re living in it.

The bank had no use for the house. They weren’t about to put any money into it to make it better. They knew there are a few cash only, as-is buyers out there. There’s no way to sell it retail, as the house won’t qualify for financing on it. The bank knows that if they don’t figuratively GIVE IT AWAY, that it will just sit there and cost them even more money. The banks are under cutting each other to get the limited pool of buyers to jump on theirs instead of the competing homes. Of course they knew that no  retail buyer could get a loan on it. But there’s cash buyers out there at the moment.

The bank could have listed it at 40,000 or 45,000 just as easily. Probably at 60,000 as a list price, those same buyers might not have been in such a hurry. But every cash investor who’s looking for project houses seriously RAN to look at it because it was 35,000.  That’s the power of bargain basement prices. It’s the same thing for whatever you went back to the Mall to buy on the day after Christmas.

My client got the house. It was multiple offer. I happened to run into one of the people we were bidding against at a terrific Christmas Eve Cocktail Party. I didn’t know that I knew him at the time, but he got another similar house that same week and wasn’t unhappy about not getting the one I’m telling you about. I had a different client who was doing some thinking about the house that he got. Many people at least looked at it during the 4 days it was on the market. At least 3 bid on it.

NEWS FLASH! Not all Hundridge Cottages are now worth $35. per square foot.  However, I wonder if some bank will finally get to the point of GIVING one a way. Now THAT would really be a bottom. On the other hand, I think the one that’s under contract with a 40,000 list price is in even worse condition. 

So what’s a similar house that’s been loved and cared for worth? Especially if the owner bought it for about 106,000 in say…2001. That’s about what a typical 2bedroom 1 bath 1000 sf home sold for in the early 2000’s. In the early 1990’s it would have been about 60,000.

Yes, the banks are throwing away the unloved, beat up, worn out, and abused houses. The actual price is proportionate to the square footage, but that’s how we compare them. Dollars per square foot. But we are back to 1980’s and 1990’s prices for the “JUNK”. 

There was a house recently that I featured that got sold in the first week. It wasn’t Huntridge. It wasn’t JUNK. It could have been really cute and really functional and it could have been lived in while the restoration was going on. It was a desert modern in the John S. Park Historic Neighborhood. It had hardwood floors, and a salvageable, but not great kitchen. It was listed for 80,000. It was also a 2/1 and also about 1100 sf. Why wasn’t it $35,000? I had 2 clients “thinking” about it, but someone else swooped in and grabbed it up, and it didn’t have to be $35,000 to get it done.

There’s some even better ones around 100k, and some better ones yet at every step of pricing as you go up the scale. But there IS a shortage of WELL loved, well maintained homes, where the seller ISN’T desperate. They exist. They’re the majority of the homes in Vintage Vegas. Many of you are living in one even as we speak.

They exist, but they’re not on the market. And they won’t be till the owner of any particular home can get a price for it that’s equal or greater than what the property is worth to him at that same moment in time. That has NEVER changed. It’s a fundamental rule akin to gravity. But if you change some part of that equation, such as “we’re now behind in payments” or “I just inherited it, get me what ever we can for it”, or “it’s bank owned” then the value of the house will be different. I just isn’t worth as much to the seller anymore.

That’s how we price houses now, and that’s why the LOWEST PRICE sale is more important than the highest price one. Obviously, the ones that are in better condition, and have the coolest features ought to get a higher price. People are fighting over the lowest priced ones. That’s a real good sign. A few more of you who can, ought to jump into it.

There’s retail buyers who are buying the best of the “SELLER MUST SELL” homes. I’m starting to see multiple offers on them. Every single “Fun Fixtures Found In Foreclosures” homes sold soon after I posted them.  The pricing of homes in comparison to others is always a hierarchy that builds from the bottom up. To the typical buyer who I work with, it sounds like “the best house I can get for the least money that meets my needs”. That’s not a new thought. I never ever ever met a buyer that didn’t think that—-regardless of what the market was.

It ALWAYS builds from the bottom, and prices will always start increasing from the bottom up. That’s why it’s called “The Bottom”.

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The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas - photo courtesy of Brian Paco AlvarezThe other problem is getting the “jingle bells” and “frosty the snowman” tunes out of my head. They’ll dissipate in the next few days, but every year they get seared into my brain for weeks.

One thing that we did get this year was lots of pictures or at least mental images of Vegas in the snow.

My dear friend and favorite historian/art curator Brian Paco Alvarez sent over a shot of the most recognized iconic piece of Las Vegas History. I’m putting this one on the wall.

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Worst MLS Photo Of The Day

891353_501_12The shortest day of the year came and went last week. I like it better when each successive day is a little longer than the last one.

We’ll also see fewer dark pictures as the days gets longer.




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

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Holiday Best Wishes To All The Readers Of VeryVintageVegas

Howdy Doody's Christmas PartyHowdy Doody’s Christmas Party One of my longest and dearest friends is Harry Arends. He has one of the biggest music collections anywhere. He sends a weekly email with long lost recordings that he’s remastering off of cylinder recordings and 78’s. Usually the recordings are around 100 years old. This week, however, he chose Howdy Doody’s Christmas Party, and I share it with you along with my holiday greeting and best wishes. Here’s Harry’s message, which describes most of us boomers. The younger crowd at VeryVintageVegas might not even know what we’re talking about, but….

Tony Bennett is credited with saying “Life is a beautiful gift.”  Christmas brings up childhood memories for most of us.  I am a child of television who never grew up, old enough to remember 78s on store shelves and young enough to have missed radio.  The Mickey Mouse Club was my mother’s babysitter before dinner.  Howdy Doody was a never-miss, and sparked my interest in marionettes.  So in the spirt of “never forget the past…just don’t live in it,” here is a Christmas greeting from the marketing wizards of a children’s television show.  This is an edited version of a two-disc record set.  How interesting that on the label Howdy Doody is referred to as an “it.”


Merry Christmas everyone!


File Attachment: Howdy Doody Christmas 

“Howdy Doody’s Christmas Party”  Story and Songs by Edward Kean featuring Howdy Doody and it’s creator Bob Smith, Orchestra conducted by Norman Leyden, Victor 45-5310

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Pool Boarding – A New Vintage Las Vegas Sport

Just what we didn’t need. Another new twist in the topsy turvey thrill ride of foreclosure mess that we’re in.

IMG_9332I stumbled onto a whole group of ADULTS in the back yard of a foreclosure. Two more arrived while I was still there. Truth be told, if I knew how to ride a skateboard, I’d have joined in the fun.

I did question them at length, and found out that they had actually emptied about 3 feet of standing water, so in their minds, they’re doing a public service. This entire group was from the suburbs. They text the location around to their friends whenever they discover a new pool with an interesting shape and design. They have about a dozen favorites and they’re all in Vintage Vegas.

I asked why they came in from the suburbs, and they told me that all the pools in the newer neighborhoods were too small, too square, too shallow and that there’s a 2 story house overlooking the backyard of every suburban pool they had scouted. That sounds like a whole new generation of fans of Vintage Vegas, that is… if they don’t kill themselves before they become first time homebuyers.  

This is the very first movie I EVER filmed. I always knew it was a function on my camera, but I’d never tried it before. It’s the 2nd time I uploaded anything onto YouTube. I’m going to start doing it more often now that I know how.

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Neon Museum Offers $5 Admission As Part of the “December To Remember” Festivities

December to Remember
Saturday, December 27th
11am-3pm – Self Guided Tours of The Boneyard for $5

Guided tours of The Boneyard at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm.


The Neon Museum will offer a discounted admission price of $5 to its outdoor Boneyard display of historic neon signs on Saturday, December 27, 2008 from 11 am to 3 pm.  Festivities include several surprise celebrity impersonators throughout the day to meet and greet everyone. Visitors can drop in and tour the facility on their own, or participate in scheduled guided tours at noon, 1 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm. Gates will be locked promptly at 3 pm. No pre-registration is required for this event only.  All standard tour rules and regulations apply.


Normally the admission price for guided tours is $15 per person, and advance registration is required. The Neon Museum is offering this special day as part of the Downtown Cultural Corridor’s “December to Remember—Holiday Traditions From Around the World” celebration.


The Downtown Cultural Corridor includes the Natural History Museum, the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park, Reed Whipple Cultural Center, the Las Vegas Library and the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum.


The Neon Museum is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to save historic Las Vegas neon signs and educate the public about their historic and cultural value.


For more information about the Neon Museum call (702)387-NEON (6366) or go to www.neonmuseum.org. Cultural Corridor information available at www.culturalcorridorvegas.org.

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Worst MLS Photo Of The Day

890755_601_16This is what copper plumbing theft actually looks like.

I mean behind the toilet, not in the mirror.




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

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Fun Fun Fun at Frankie’s Tiki Room

Thanks to all of you who stopped in at our VeryVintageVegas Meet and Greet last night! If you missed it…..and you know who you are….we’ll do another one in the spring.


We had about 75 people, all of whom were more than impressed with how original and terrific the Tiki surroundings were for a night out with old and new friends.




Jaede (as Marilyn) and MaryJOY on the left

Joey (my baby brother) and MaryJOY.



IMG_9295Adam Burke, with Heidi and Scott Swank. Adam did the great piece for KNPR Radio about the Flamingo Club Cocktail Parties. Heidi, Scott and I were featured with lots of discussion about Mid Century Modern and all of it’s different aspects.








Brian Paco Alvarez and Andrew Kiraly from City Life Magazine. Andrew’s responsible for picking the Save the Huntridge Committee as City Life Heroes in the issue that’s on the stands now.





IMG_9301IMG_9298Susan Dean in the left picture with her souvenir mug.

James and Christine and one of the great Tiki’s



IMG_9307MaryJOY, Jack and Paco with the fertility god. God help us.








What’s a party without Marilyn and Elvis, or Uncle Jack for that matter.






Susan Dean and Meghan Stoddard.


Tony and Bob from Paradise Palms with their souvineer mugs.


Lynn Zook from Classic Las Vegas and Dennis McBride from the Nevada State Museum.





There’s a whole Tiki sub-culture out there. This is “Tiki Pug” which is his tiki sub-culture nickname.

“Tiki-Smiley” and Tiki-Lee and Tiki Pug are starting a TIKI CLUB which will be meeting every Wednesday at Frankie’s Tiki Room. 7pm. Be there or the fertility gods will get you.


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Worst MLS Photo Of The Day

889299_301_19Dexter spent the whole day figuring out this blood splatter puzzle.






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

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City Life Magazine Names Its Heros For 2008

City Life is out today with its heros for 2008. We’re most pleased to report that we made the cut!

Below is the segment of the article that recognizes our efforts to “Save The Huntridge”. There’s other heros being recognized, and I hope you’ll click this link to read the entire article in City Life Magazine 

Save the Huntridge Group

Preserving old buildings the new-fashioned way

CityLifeHeros photo courtesy of City LifeIN Las Vegas, preserving history is an idealistic cause that sometimes requires radical action. And when a group of downtown history buffs heard the Huntridge Theater might be razed, they took just such a radical route: They traded in their idealism for pragmatism.

“The coolest thing about saving the Huntridge is that we didn’t have to fight,” says Brian Paco Alvarez, an urban historian and member of Save the Huntridge. “It was actually of us sitting down and being realistic and very pragmatic and coming to an agreement with the property owner. We took a more conservative approach, and it worked.”

What didn’t work was hewing to the quixotic notion that the long-shuttered theater should reopen only as an entertainment venue. Between the costs of rehabbing a delicate building and a rash of competing clubs that sprung up in the ’90s, owner Eli Mizrachi couldn’t make it pencil out as a venue. The options: Remain a dim, empty monument to history, or bring the building back to life in a reimagined form.

“The Huntridge of the ’90s was a great concert venue, but it never made any money,” says Alvarez. He should know the sting of a big show gone bust: He put on a few shows at the Huntridge and didn’t exactly walk away with a suitcase full of cash. “The reality is that a theater isn’t going to work.”

With the blessing of the Save the Huntridge group, in August, the building’s owner, Eli Mizrachi, announced plans to revamp the Huntridge as a commercial retail building. The city approved his plans last month, and now Mizrachi is scouting for tenants.

The history wonk’s term for it is “adaptive reuse.” The layman’s term is compromise.

“One of the best parts of the process was working with Eli so he realized we weren’t trying to tie his hands,” says Lynn Zook, another member of Save the Huntridge. “We didn’t come at him going, ‘You must do this.’ It was about what we could do to make it viable for him and still keep the building.”

So, there’s one happy ending for preservationists — and some valuable lessons learned for future battles in saving Southern Nevada history from the wrecking ball.

“The great lesson to be learned with the Huntridge is that we can save these old structures by sitting down, being open-minded and really coming up with plans that the majority of people will be pleased with,” says Alvarez. “When the project gets finished, not only will it be the most beautiful building in the area, but what it will do for the redevelopment of the neighborhood and that corridor will be immense.” Historic, you might say.

(Pictured above is the “Save The Huntridge” Committee (l-r) Jack LeVine, MaryJOY Alderman, Brian Paco Alvarez, Lynn Zook and Pam Hartley)

The picture taking session was most amusing, as it was taken on Sunday afternoon when it was about 35 degrees. We were shivering and huddled together for every picture except this one.

Personally, I want to thank everyone who wrote letters, attended planning and council meetings and helped us with so many projects throughout the year. Volunteering to make our lives and our neighborhoods better is a great idea, and I highly recommend it for your New Year’s Resolutions. You’ll meet some great people, help save some architecturally or historically important buildings, and you’ll find you really like living in a Vintage Vegas that has charm and character and history.

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