Buying a House in Las Vegas? Don’t Roll the Dice

Since you’ve found this article, congratulations are in order! You’re betting your future on buying a home in Las Vegas. And you aren’t alone: The once-transient nature of the city is changing as more and more people settle down in Vegas.

You may think of Las Vegas as a bustling party town filled with tourists, all seeking a wild weekend under the neon lights and rows of casinos on the Strip. In reality, the strip is one part of a much larger metropolitan area that spans 600 square miles in Las Vegas Valley. It’s an attractive place to buy a home, but inventory is tight, so if you want to buy the home of your dreams, you’ll need to be ready to act as soon as you find it.

Buying a home is a huge investment, and there is a lot to learn before making the commitment. We talked to experts with decades of experience in Las Vegas real estate, scoured all of the neighborhoods, and did the research so we could bring you the best recommendations for your budget and lifestyle, gathering everything we learned together in this comprehensive guide.

A house you can buy in Las Vegas.
Source: (Robynrg/ Shutterstock)

What kind of housing can you expect in Las Vegas?

The most common type of home you’ll find in Las Vegas is the traditional single-family detached home, accounting for more than 60% of the city’s housing units. Las Vegas also has large apartment complexes, duplexes, homes converted to apartments, and a few row houses.

There is a home for every taste and every budget. New homes are in huge demand and the supply is low, but more and more houses are hitting the market every day.

To give you a taste of the home styles in Las Vegas, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular types of dwellings you will encounter on your journey around the city.

Ranch style

This type of home is typically an L-shaped, one-story house. Most ranch-style floor plans focus on open, airy layouts with few interior walls. Exteriors typically incorporate wood, brick, and vinyl materials. A variation on this style is the split-level house, which typically offers a traditional eat-in-kitchen, dining room, and family room on one floor, and bedrooms on the next floor.

Tudor style

Tudor homes can be distinguished by the steep gable roofs, half-timbering mixed with stucco, masonry chimneys, stone trims, and exposed wood framework.

Spanish style 

These homes take their dominating features from the early Spanish missions. Details of note include low-pitched tiled roofs, arched window and door openings, white stucco walls, and the use of decorative tiles.

Pueblo style

These designs originated in New Mexico and Arizona. Typical characteristics include flat roofs, rounded angles, protruding rounded roof beams, and exterior and interior plaster walls.

Mediterranean style

This architectural style captures southern European vibes. These homes have exterior stucco, concrete or terracotta roof tiles, and dramatic open spaces with high ceilings.

These homes, you’ll notice, are largely built with stucco and plaster; that’s due to the climate. Las Vegas is located in the Mojave Desert, and the weather boasts 294 days of sunshine and an average yearly rainfall of only 5 inches. Daytime temperatures range from the 50s and 60s in winter months (and lows dipping into the 30s), while summer days can easily reach over 100 degrees.

Some consider the summer heat oppressive, while others consider the high temps a fine tradeoff for the other amenities Las Vegas has to offer. While it may get very hot in Las Vegas, the city is attractive because it is free from tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and severe snowstorms — hazards in many other warm climates.

No matter what style you prefer, you can expect that about 80% of the homes will be owner-occupied, according to Steve Hawks, a real estate agent with 21 years of experience in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Hawks adds that buyers can expect that the homes they tour will be in good shape as the city experienced a building surge beginning in 2018 and there are plenty of new-construction opportunities as a result.

You will also notice a new style trend: the classic granite countertops, travertine and wood cabinets that once adorned the Las Vegas home are gone, replaced by white quartz countertops and grey flooring. Hawks says he doesn’t think there’s a new house in Las Vegas that doesn’t have these elements, “and the funny part is, in five years people will be on to the next trend.”

Las Vegas contains a large number of gated communities, which means buyers need appointments to see the homes for sale. Another real estate trend that’s particularly prevalent in Las Vegas is iBuyers, which buy homes from sellers, renovate them, and then list the home on the market for buyers. “The iBuyer may take shortcuts when remodeling or hide home defects,” Hawks warns.

Cash used to buy a house in Las Vegas.
Source: (Vladimir Solomyani/ Unsplash)

How far will my buck go? Budgeting for your Las Vegas home purchase

According to November 2019 numbers released by the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, the median home price in Las Vegas is around $300,000. Houses typically sell for slightly below list price or for list price if the house is particularly well-appointed. Compared to median prices in other major U.S. cities, Las Vegas definitely gets you more bang for your buck. (If you need help determining what you can afford to buy, check out our Home Affordability Calculator.)

The price of the house is just one figure that you’ll need to consider. You’ll also need to think about closing costs (between 2% and 5% in Nevada), and to get a sense for your monthly mortgage costs (the principal and interest on your loan, plus property taxes and insurance).

Nevada’s property tax rates are among the lowest in the U.S. The state’s average effective property tax rate is just 0.69%, well below the national average of 1.08%. Nevada also has no personal income tax. These tax savings mean that maybe you can afford to spend a bit more to make your new home perfect.

One other factor to consider in Las Vegas is solar panels, which are becoming more popular than ever. You will likely encounter one of four solar home scenarios when home shopping: fully owned solar panels, leased solar panels, solar panels purchased with a solar loan, and PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financed solar panels.

Get the lay of the land in Las Vegas

Las Vegas offers a plethora of fantastic things to do, from magic shows, gambling, and Cirque du Soleil on the Strip, to world-class dining experiences, and a wide variety of hiking, biking, and natural fun to be found in the areas surrounding the city.

For those on the go, everything you need can be obtained in Las Vegas at any time of the day or night on any day of the week. The locals love this convenience, and it adds to the quality of life for the city’s residents. You can grab a middle-of-the-night snack or get your shopping done while the crowds are fast asleep.

As previously mentioned, Las Vegas covers a lot of ground, and deciding where to call home can be a big decision. First, you’ll have to choose the best neighborhood for your household’s lifestyle. Some factors people consider when choosing which part of town to purchase in are:

  • Proximity to friends and family
  • Commute time to work
  • Amenities within the neighborhood

In addition to center-city Las Vegas, there are several metro areas to the north, south, east, and west of the city. Here’s an overview of some of the best-rated spots to live.

Downtown

The Strip

First up: the Strip. If you are looking for everything that big-city living has to offer, with the added excitement of thousands of tourists on a regular basis, living on the Strip is a fantastic option.

  • Benefits: You’re in the center of everything. You have easy access to shows, restaurants, and casinos. The Strip is always full of visitors, so there are a ton of vacation rental options if you want to leverage them.
  • Drawbacks: Be ready to spend some serious cash as space in the area is at a premium, and most of the apartments and condos that have been built in the not-too-distant past are luxury pads.

Downtown/Arts District

Don’t get downtown confused with the Strip. This area was popular in the 1950s and ’60s, but once the Strip was built, it fell out of favor. In recent years, however, the area has seen a huge revitalization.

  • Benefits: Older buildings are now home to coffee shops, artisanal furniture shops, and tattoo parlors. You will also find some of the most exciting restaurants in Las Vegas in this neighborhood, including Therapy and Carson Kitchen.
  • Drawbacks: There isn’t easy access to natural activities. You’ll need to drive to hit the trails.

Adjacent to downtown you’ll find the Arts District, a funky area where things feel very DIY and eclectic, with lots of small boutiques selling art, furniture, and clothing. Check out the area website to get a feel for the vibe. Housing in the area is a mix of old Vegas and newer Southwestern style; this is a spot where you can find a total steal but remain in the hustle-bustle of city life.

Houses you can buy in Las Vegas.
Source: (trekandshoot/ Shutterstock)

Metro area

Outside of the city center in the metro areas, housing has been built around achieving a luxury lifestyle. Developments called master-planned communities span thousands of acres and feature perks like parks, trails, shops, and schools — almost like a small city. Each neighborhood has its own policies, and may have its own HOA, features, and price ranges. These communities have a range of inexpensive condos, apartments, and luxury homes.

Summerlin

To the west of downtown you’ll find Summerlin, one of Las Vegas’ most popular master-planned communities. It spans 22,500 acres at the edge of the Spring Mountains and Red Rock Canyon to the west, with more than 150 parks and more than 150 miles of trails, so if you love the outdoors, this area can be a great choice.

  • Benefits: For sports fans, the area is home to City National Arena, which hosts the city’s NHL team, the Golden Knights. Downtown Summerlin also recently added a massive high-end shopping and dining complex, so everything you need is at your doorstep.
  • Drawbacks: The elevation is slightly higher, thus it’s colder in the winter months, and you may even see a bit of snow. Bus service to this area is lacking, so you are going to need a car (like much of Vegas).

Southwest Las Vegas

Southwest Las Vegas is an expansive area within the Valley. Encompassing master-planned developments such as Rhodes Ranch and Mountain’s Edge, Southwest is a unique corner of the Valley known for its rural charm.

  • Benefits: Easy access to Red Rock Canyon Recreation Area, multiple golf courses, the Wet’n’Wild water park, shopping,  new hospitals, and McCarran Airport.
  • Drawbacks: The new housing boom has led to smaller lots and more people than resources in the area. One other thing to note is that the area is a bit further out from the center of town and areas to the north and east of the city.

North Las Vegas

North Las Vegas is located, as you may assume, at the northern tip of the Las Vegas Valley. This area is actually its own city, like Henderson and Las Vegas, and it’s one of Nevada’s fastest-growing areas. North Las Vegas is the fourth-largest community in Nevada.

  • Benefits: There has been a significant amount of newer housing growth in recent years. With this new home construction, new residents are moving in who are middle class or wealthier. It’s 20-30 minutes to the strip so if you work there, it’s easy to get to work.
  • Drawbacks: It’s slightly less safe than other parts of the Las Vegas metro area.

Sunrise

Sunrise Manor is one of the most affordable markets in the Las Vegas Valley.

While Sunrise Manor has a lot of moderately priced real estate, there are also still deluxe options to consider near the base of Frenchman Mountain.

Henderson

Henderson is a suburb of Las Vegas, but it is also its own city. Many people relocating to the area consider this a part of Las Vegas and include it in their search parameters.

  • Benefits: Some giant companies have moved into this area, including Google, which is creating many jobs and attracting further business growth. Henderson also borders two of the region’s most beautiful national parks, Sloan Canyon and Lake Mead. And it attracts a range of buyers, from young professionals to households with families, as the public schools in Henderson are above average. There are several different communities within Henderson for you to explore.
  • Drawbacks: Henderson is very quiet and a bit remote. This tends to bring an abundance of wildlife — coyotes and scorpions to name a few. If you are looking for a more urban and trendy area Henderson may not be for you.
Source: (STIL/ Unsplash)

Tips for buyers 

When to buy a house in Las Vegas

Historically speaking, the best time to plan your scouting mission to Las Vegas is over the winter. From July 2017 to July 2018, 50,000 Californians moved to Las Vegas, which had an effect on home prices so as soon as you are ready, it’s time to contact an agent and start the process.

Find a top buyer’s agent in Las Vegas 

If you are ready to buy your dream home in Las Vegas, don’t roll the dice. Get in touch with a tried and true buyer’s agent to help navigate the process; a top agent in Las Vegas can save buyers 7.2% on their home.

Now that you have a feel for how far your money will go and what Las Vegas has to offer, don’t bet the house — buy the house!

Header Image Source: (Ameer Basheer/ Unsplash)

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