Las Vegas is a modern desert metropolis built on gambling, vice and other forms of entertainment, that may have been called illegal over the years. But in just under a century of existence, Las Vegas has drawn millions of visitors and brought trillions of dollars in wealth to southern Nevada.
The city was founded by ranchers and railroad workers but quickly found that its greatest asset was not its springs but its casinos. Las Vegas’s embrace many of Old West-style freedoms including gambling which as everybody knows provided a perfect home for East Coast organized crime. Beginning in the 1940s, money poured in to build built casinos. Visitors came to partake in what the casinos offered: low-cost luxury and the thrill of fantasies fulfilled.
Some Fun Las Vegas Facts
Las Vegas has inspired plenty of myths, legends and lore. Here, though, are a few surprising and actual facts.
1. When Paul Anka first played Vegas he was too young to be allowed in the casino.
2. Bugsy Siegel named his casino the Flamingo after the long legs of his showgirl girlfriend.
3. In Nevada it is mandatory that video slot machines pay a minimum of 75 percent on average.
4. Vegas Vic, the enormous neon cowboy that towers over Fremont Street, is the world's largest mechanical neon sign.
5. Howard Hughes stayed at the Desert Inn for so long that he was asked to leave. He bought the hotel.
6. Camels were used as pack animals in Nevada as late as 1870.
7. More than 41 million people visit Las Vegas each year.
8. Seventeen of the 20 biggest hotels in the U.S. are in Las Vegas.
Not many cities evoke as many instant associations as Las Vegas.
Maybe you think of the Rat Pack, showgirls and mobsters sipping martinis. Or perhaps it's bachelorettes and bros on a bender that everyone hopes won't end up on Facebook.
It's a town whose story has been told thousands of times, even though what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas.
But there's much more to the city than just sin.
There were 2,147,641 people reportedly living in the Las Vegas valley in 2015. And the city is growing again. In fact it’s exciting to see a new tech boom building in town and the Las Vegas’ housing market has come back to life over the past few years.
And when it comes to LAs vegas real estate, buyers are picking up new and used homes again at great prices compared to many other parts of the country. Homeowners are getting above water again, developers are building apartment complexes and employment and wages have climbed. But it could take several more years before Las Vegas — ground zero for last decade’s real estate boom and bust — fully recovers from the worst recession in decades, which all but wiped out the local economy.
So what’s the state of the housing market? Here’s a barometer based on some recent reports, including how Las Vegas compares to the nation and how the market has changed in the past decade:
Many people don’t understand what a great place Las Vegas is to live in. As of the writing of this post there approximately 18,000 homes for sale in Las Vegas and Las Vegas homes are selling quickly again
Foreclosures and underwater homeowners
When the economy crashed, Las Vegas’ housing market was among the hardest-hit nationally, choked by foreclosures and underwater borrowers.
Residents missed mortgage payments amid sweeping job cuts and lost their homes to lenders, emptying subdivisions valleyed. Home values also plunged, leaving the majority of borrowers underwater, meaning their debt outweighed their home’s value.
Those problems have eased considerably the past few years. For instance, creditors filed default notices against roughly 1,800 homes in the Las Vegas area in the first quarter, down from about 2,200 in the same period last year and nearly 17,800 in first-quarter 2009.
21 percent of Las Vegas-area homeowners with mortgages were underwater in late 2015, according to home-listing service Zillow. That’s down from a peak of 71 percent in early 2012 but still highest among large metro areas and well above the U.S. rate of 13 percent.
Las Vegas home values have climbed in recent years, but they have more room to grow than in any large metro area to reach peak levels again.
The median home value in the Las Vegas area in February was $201,900, up 9 percent from a year earlier. Nationally, the median was $184,600, up 4.3 percent, according to Zillow.
Locally, home values remain 34 percent below their peak, but across the U.S., values are 6 percent below the peak, Zillow recently reported.
Las Vegas’ gap was largest among the 35 metro areas listed in the report, highlighting Southern Nevada’s rapid home-value growth last decade and devastating crash.
Several cities have recouped their post-bubble losses and reached new highs. According to Zillow, home values hit new peaks in 26 markets during the past year or so — but not in Las Vegas.
Builders couldn’t sell houses fast enough in Las Vegas during the years before the bubble burst, as loose lending practices by financial institutions left the market awash in easy money. But when the economy tanked, builders shut down, projects went bankrupt and buyers vanished.
Sales volume is climbing again, although it’s nowhere near what builders achieved last decade or in the 1990s, before the market inflated rapidly.
Builders sold about 6,800 new homes in Clark County last year, up 13 percent from 2014, and about 1,530 new homes in the first quarter of 2016, up 9 percent from the same period last year, according to Home Builders Research.
By comparison, builders sold about 17,900 new homes in the Las Vegas area in 1995. That soared to almost 39,000 sales in 2005, but plunged to just 3,900 in 2011.
There's a lot about Vegas you might not know.
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