Vertical Living
Ease of Living With a View
It’s easy to see why people are interested in high-rise living in Las Vegas. Not only are the floor plans stunning with matching amenities, but there is access to one of the most exciting cities, complete with world-class entertainment, gourmet dining and the opportunity to entertain for business and pleasure. Nevermind the gorgeous views and sunsets you can witness from your balcony. The high-rise scene has been busy since 2005 when real estate developer Steve Wynn began building his projects. Currently, there is a variety of high-rise, mixed-use, condo, hotel and other properties available or in various stages of planning, development and construction.

In this section, you’ll learn about advantages to living in a vertical living property, what differences are important to keep in mind versus living in a single-family home in Las Vegas, the names of projects under construction and other considerations when buying a high-rise condo.

The best news about the housing market in Las Vegas is that after many years of price increases, properties are now more affordable than before. If you’re looking for a high-rise, condo or mid rise, you’ll have a wide selection from which to choose whether it be a Strip, off-strip or a downtown location.

Before you start looking at properties, it’s important to work with a Realtor® who has specific experience in handling high-rise properties and is known in the community. He or she will also know the status of on-going projects and can update you on new information that may affect your search. You’ll find more information on this topic in the article called “Working with a Realtor”.

High-Rise Advantages in Vegas
It can be exciting and a lot of fun, especially in Las Vegas, to live on the Strip or in close proximity. People who love the high-rise lifestyle often cite these reasons for their choice.
  1. Walking to work versus sitting in traffic. Imagine freeing up at least 45 minutes (or more) each day? Plus, not driving helps the environment.
  2. It’s convenient, especially if you’re living alone or as a couple. Many high-rise and mid-rise developments include shopping within the property or nearby. You can do numerous errands in a short time and not worry about parking.
  3. Road warrior schedules are easier to manage living in a high-rise. No worrying about lawn care, security or mail pick up. Just close the door and leave. Some even hail a cab to McCarran International Airport, a short distance from the Strip or downtown.
  4. Enjoy the nightlife of Vegas – eating, entertaining, gaming and shopping within moments of your residence.
  5. Access to amenities within the building – a gym or club, a swimming pool, meeting facilities and, in some cases, availability of room service.

Researching Properties
Your Realtor® will be invaluable in ensuring that you thoroughly check each high-rise building developer you’re considering. What other buildings have they completed? How is the builder’s track record in completing on time? Is there a marketing team representing the building that can answer your questions in a timely manner? It would be good to find out if the property is properly financed and if the development has any bank-mandated sales requirements it must meet before their financing is fully approved and funded. What’s the buzz about the project? Is there an anticipated date of completion and occupancy?

High-Rise Lifestyle
While new single-family homes in the suburbs still represent the largest segment of the market in Las Vegas, many others seek out condominiums, townhomes or high-rises throughout the city. Vertical living options suit a variety of residents such as empty nesters who no longer want to maintain a large yard; urban professionals who maintain busy schedules and may already own a high-rise property in Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco. Other buyers may split their time between the United States and other areas of the world and like calling Las Vegas their U.S. home.

Part of the lifestyle in a high-rise includes taking advantage of a rich mix of amenities that are available on site. These can include concierge and room service, housekeeping, high-level security, fitness centers, upscale restaurants, conference facilities and movie and game rooms. Make sure you find out if there any additional usage charges for these amenities.

According to John Eisele, sales manager of Juhl, a new high-rise community downtown, and president of the Las Vegas Highrise & Condominium Association, amenities buyers can expect include optional floor plans, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, floor to ceiling glass, courtyard with pool/spa, fitness facilities and mixed use retail.

Keep in Mind
When looking at properties, ask about the finishes and upgrades available, as they can differ among builders. You want to avoid surprises on move-in date. Ask if the residences are completely finished or are they “designer ready?” If so, ask the builder or marketing firm to clarify what that means as it can also differ from builder to builder. Are appliances included? Are upgrades available? If so, what are the additional costs associated with those upgrades and how long do you have to make your selections? The preliminary phase is the best time to determine what each property offers. Compare each of the properties you’re interested and see how they differ. After reviewing your list of properties that interest you, develop new questions that have emerged in order to continue clarifying the process.

About the Purchasing Process
Be sure you ask at each property if the developer or builder is taking reservations or are they going straight to contract? What are the deposit requirements and does your deposit earn interest? Does your due diligence need to be performed by a specific date? If so, what is the date? What about the timeframe for a rescission period and for close of escrow? Determine whether the property will be signed in the name of an LLC or a trust versus an individual. Additionally ask questions about whether you can close your property as an LLC or trust vs. an individual. To properly budget your closing costs in advance, get an estimate on Homeowners’ Association (HOA) dues, additional assessments and estimated taxes that will be due. Your Realtor® will be invaluable in navigating you through all of this.

Assessments
When considering properties, find out what the assessment covers and what it doesn’t cover. Typically, assessments can cover expenses for items such as maintenance of common areas, trash collection, recreational facilities and other amenities. In some communities, assessments cover exterior maintenance to units. In some communities, assessments cover interior maintenance to units.

Determine if the budget includes a reserve fund for major expenditures. Most communities will require large expenditures at some time – roofs replaced or private roads and parking areas resurfaced, for example. If there is no reserve fund, the association will likely have to impose special assessments when major projects become necessary which can be an expensive and unanticipated financial burden.

Managing Your Expectations
You’ve identified your ideal home. You’ve done your homework. You’re ready to buy. But there’s one more thing on your checklist: Resolve to manage your own expectations. Like any endeavor involving people, community association living is not utopia. With all their inherent advantages, community associations are not unlike any human enterprise. Judgments are subjective and subject to change. Decisions are not always met with unanimous approval. Mistakes are made.

Understanding HOA's
For those new to high-rise home shopping, HOA agreements are probably the least understood. It’s important to know what HOA fees cover, typically the cost of the swimming pool, insurance for the exterior of the property and maintenance manager’s salary, for instance. But the question to ask is how much is in the reserve fund? A percentage of the HOA fee is placed into the reserve fund to cover current and future building expenses. As a potential buyer, you should be sure there is enough money in that fund especially if you’re planning to buy a home in an existing building.

If it’s an old building, ask about the amount of reserve for making repairs. If the roof needs replacement, is there enough money to replace it? If not, the roof is replaced and a special assessment is made to the homeowners. This can be thousands of additional dollars that were not budgeted. Overall, though, HOA fees are usually less than the cost to maintain a single-family home.

High-Rise Condominiums
Due to the high cost of steel and concrete construction, this category is primarily luxury housing. Standard interiors will include stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, hard woods and other options. Buyers may find higher maintenance fees, which are driven by amenities. Professional couples and singles are attracted to this lifestyle as they want to be where the action is, but they still want their privacy, security and service. Amenities such as valet parking, porter service to deliver groceries and mail collection are key factors along with other amenities such as a swimming pool, party room and health club/workout facility.

Within this category are condominiums built above major hotels. Condo owners have their own amenities apart from the hotel but can also utilize the hotel services, such as room service.

Condo-Hotel
While this type of property is also above a hotel, it differs from a high-rise condominium described above in that a buyer may choose the property for rental or purchase. A condo-hotel owner would buy a unit and place it back into the hotel’s rental pool from which the owner would derive income. The owner would typically be able to use the property four weeks out of the year, for example.
As expected, the interiors will all be high-end luxury and homeowner association fees will usually be higher than a luxury condo. This option attracts very wealthy people who are attracted to the amenities, including the availability of hotel room service. Examples of this category include Cosmopolitan, Trump Tower, the Residences at MGM Grand, MGM CityCenter and the Platinum.

Midrise
Also called “sticks and bricks” construction or a garden-style condo, a midrise is usually constructed without steel or concrete and is under 100 feet. There is usually garage-type parking underground, and the floor plans are smaller. With this type of property, not many amenities are offered. Buyers may find lower maintenance fees for mid-rises versus luxury high-rise properties.

Local Vertical Living Scene
There are plenty of high-rise living properties available for you to consider. Are you interested in newly completed properties or properties currently under construction? Depending on your timeframe and preferences, it’s never been a better time to consider buying a high-rise or mid-rise residence.

Here is a sampling of recently completed properties:

Completed in early 2009, juhl, located in downtown Las Vegas, is a 15-story glass building consisting of 341 urban-lofts from 757 to 2,200 square feet. More than 100 floor plans are available, offering distinctive features including expansive floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize sunlight, city views and private patio balconies.

C2 Lofts' award-winning developer has a history of creating stunning homes. Priced from the $400,000s, eight dynamic loft designs are available, ranging up to more than 3,300 square feet. Upscale amenities, planned for C2 Lofts in Summerlin, include a beautiful heated pool, two spa’s, and a fitness center.

The six-story Loft 5 building is located south of McCarran Airport near Las Vegas Blvd. and near the South Point resort. Floor plans are from 600 square-feet to more than 2,000 square-feet, and include studios and one- and two-bedroom units. Amentities include unique courtyards with relaxing pools amid peaceful gardens along with recreation pools, hot tubs and fire pits. There are lifestyle centers with a fitness spa, a club lounge and theater screening rooms complemented by a professional concierge.

Allure Las Vegas, a stunning 41-story luxury condominium tower, opened its doors to residents in early 2008. Owners and their guests enjoy striking views of the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding mountains, superb amenities and exceptional finishes. Conveniently located with easy access to I-15, Las Vegas Blvd. and the downtown area, Allure Las Vegas features 428 units and 15 distinct studio, one, two and three bedroom floor plans, as well as tower suites and extraordinary two-story penthouses. Remarkably priced from the $200,000s, Allure Las Vegas sets a new paradigm for upscale urban living in Las Vegas.

Sky Las Vegas condos include 409 units from 870 to 5,500 square feet, priced from approximately $500,000 to more than $5 million. In addition to penthouse units, Sky Las Vegas is offering premium three-story suites with rooftop garden patios. Sky’s luxurious condos include access to an outdoor recreation area with over one acre of pool and garden space complete with putting green, outdoor fire pit, barbeque area and dog run. Indoor amenities include a social room overlooking the Las Vegas Strip, a spa and fitness center, business center with private meeting room, private screening room, billiard room with bar, valet parking, concierge services and state-of-the-art security.

Boca Raton is a seven-story mid-rise community property is located midway between the established Strip resorts and the developing South Strip. Designed to be a relaxing escape from the hustle of the city, Boca Raton is designed with a vintage Florida seaside resort feel. With numerous floor plans to choose from, Boca Raton features the finest quality Type 1, fire-proof construction, breathtaking classic design and unparalleled luxury.

Most Anticipated Property
Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated property in Las Vegas is CityCenter, the $7 billion, 67-acre city-within-a-city metropolis developed by MGM and Infinity World. It contains 2,800 luxury high-rise condominiums, including Vdara, the condo hotel. Opened in late 2009 between Bellagio and ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara offers contemporary interior spaces with modern amenities and services, a rooftop pool, lounge and wellness spa, all wrapped up in an atmosphere bound to surpass every expectation. Future residences will include Veer Towers and the Residences at Mandarin Oriental.
 
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