Southern Nevada condo market still wallows in the Lehman moment, especially the high-rise luxury segment that occupies choice space for the most part on and around the Strip. Units are hard to sell because mortgage financing has dried up, sharp value declines have scared would-be buyers to sit and wait and the glut of vacant inventory gives no one enough confidence to commit to anything. Las Vegas luxury condominium developers had a totally different vision in mind when they started their projects a few years ago, when the thinking was that if you build it they'll come. Well, they did build it, but they aren't coming.
MGM Mirage's CityCenter unveiled its massive multi-use development on the Strip in December, including a high-rise condo component scattered in several buildings. Just like everyone else in Las Vegas, it has found that selling them is no walk in the park.
The condo-hotel Vdara has managed to close on only 78 out of 1,543 units through April, according to SalesTraq, a Las Vegas real estate information boutique. Although it began closings only in March CityCenter had announced earlier in the year the sale of 698 condos. Mandarin Oriental has closed through April on 32 uber-luxury units out of 227 available, while months ago it reported contracts on 205 of them. Veer Towers has 670 condominiums in two distinct leaning structures where closings just kicked off in May, with 480 of them sold according to CityCenter.
To address the major issue of mortgage availability MGM Mirage began offering seller financing to some buyers. It chopped off 30% from the condo prices over the winter to bring them closer to market. Evidently these changes haven't been enough, though, to excite the recession-weary prospects since the sales figures are very weak. On top of a dysfunctional mortgage and real estate markets comes a dispute with Perini Building Company over construction payments that will make some people reconsider their plans. Buying into a condo project under litigation is generally to be avoided.
Metrostudy, a housing industry research shop from Houston, reported recently that Las Vegas has 8,200 empty condominiums, including the ones from CityCenter. Moreover, SalesTraq informs that at this sales pace there is a 20-year supply of them. That is a tough environment where to successfully market condominiums no matter how luxurious they are. And no matter what kind of Las Vegas Strip views they offer. To efficiently move this CityCenter inventory requires further price cuts, down to where the Southern Nevada high-rise condo market is, otherwise the marketing budget currently in use is mostly thrown away.