In search of an even money bet

Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich
– something for nothing.
 George Bernard Shaw

The Strip, where all world icons meet.

The Strip, where all world icons meet.

Never a truer word could be said of the city of Las Vegas. Forget The Strip, the real money is being made out in the suburbs.

If you had the cash and nerves of steel in late 2010, you could have picked up a six-bedroom home on 11600 sq ft in one of Las Vegas’ gated districts for a mere $787,000 and sold it today for $3.9 million.

Las Vegas was and still is one of the hardest hit cities in the US for property but the turnaround has begun. Homes that couldn’t rent or sell in 2010-12 have for the past six months caught the eye of individuals and syndicates which have been snapping up foreclosures for as little as $60,000 and reselling them for double and something.

Reversal of fortunes

The mood for property here has changed. The expected win rate is riding high and those lucky enough to have the front money to secure a bank credit rating of 720 and above can get back into the real estate game.

And, yes, those that can position themselves at first base have the edge. Home values are expected to rise 7.5 per cent a year, not bad when one compares it with the current interest rate return under 1 per cent. Properties in Vegas on a whole are up 25 per cent since they bottomed in late 2009.

Odds are this is sure to create another bubble so the astute gambler needs to get in on the ground [now], spend up big [buy as many quality properties as they can] and cash out quickly [sell, sell, sell] to ensure they take all winnings.

So is it really time to buy in?

The Lakes, Las Vegas

The Lakes, Las Vegas

Before the credit crisis  Vegas was growing at a rate of 2000 people per week, according to Clark County government stats, and most of them were drawn to the city by the 2007-09 construction boom involving the $8.4 billion CityCentre development project by MGM Resorts International and investment fund Dubai World. It was the largest privately funded constructed project in the history of the United States.

By 2011 there was a mass exodus of 65,000 and as few as 13,000 people have returned or arrived since. So, if you’re in the mood for a punt and want to take advantage of low property taxes and 0 per cent state income tax on earnings then it’s good to know that there’s more to this city than just The Strip. Ten miles west of Las Vegas Boulevard in an oasis described as desert serenity meets the Mediterranean dozens of gated communities, such as The Lakes, dot the landscape at the foothills of Spring Mountains.

Beautifully manicured lawns and landscaping surround wide tree-lined streets – and that’s just the communities outside these districts. Inside some have their own golf courses, gourmet waterfront restaurants and speciality boutiques. Of course, the most expensive homes face directly onto pristine man-made lakes.


The view from the deck of Mt Charleston Lodge.

You don’t expect to find these sedated suburban enclaves, yet they run from every point of The Strip. And though it seems all villages have a casino on every corner, there’s so much more to do here other than gambling.

When the desert heat in summer reaches above 110 degrees F, locals escape to the town of Mt Charleston, to camp, hike, ski or just kick-back for the day sipping beers on the deck of Mt Charleston lodge.

And 25 miles south-east of the city is Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume, where helicopter tours and cruises run daily. Of course these activities are mild in comparison to the fun and games down on The Strip where world-class cuisine meets entertainment on the edge.

This really is a city with a lot to offer and, but for my money I enjoyed downtown Fremont’s Viva Vision Street Experience. It takes you back to what old-style Vegas was surely all about.

Judy Wilkinson is a freelance journalist who is in the United States to launch an app and website she hopes will become the next big thing.

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