Used-car seller thrives on East Sahara Avenue


Brian Steele doesn’t want to sound like the typical corporate executive when he quotes billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who once said, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”

But that was very much the philosophy behind Low Book Sales’ business decision to buy the former United Jeep Chrysler dealership at 3250 E. Sahara Ave. for $1.95 million two years ago. The 5.5-acre lot was vacant and in receivership with Bank of America.

Steele, president and chief operating officer of Lindon, Utah-based Low Book, said he scouted several Las Vegas locations from the Centennial area to the Valley Auto Mall and liked the changes he saw happening on East Sahara, which was dotted with empty car lots during the recession.

Fairway Chevrolet invested more than $1 million renovating its dealership, leasing Low Book’s property next door while work was under way. Fletcher Jones Toyota, Chapman Chrysler Dodge and United Nissan have all remodeled and modernized their dealerships.

“We liked the changes on East Sahara and wanted to get involved with that. It seemed like a revitalization going on,” Steele said as he strolled the used car lot. “We feel now that we bought at the bottom of the market.”

Low Book sold more than 100 cars in three weeks since opening in late April, a sign that auto sales are picking up, he said. Low Book’s dealership in Salt Lake City sold 216 cars in February, compared with 170 in the same month a year ago, and is on track for 300 sales in March.

“The car business has struggled a bit in the last couple of years. The average age of a used car is 12 years. That creates a lot of pent-up demand,” Steele said. “As the economy comes back, I really think the car business is going to rally in the next few years. It’s understandable for people to feel like, ‘It’s been so bad for so long, why would it get better?’ But there are signs that it is getting better.”

Steele said the company spent about $2 million renovating the showroom, customer lounge and 18-bay service department, including new stucco, paint and rock-accented exterior facade.

Low Book tries to “empower” its customers by giving them information other dealers hold back such as their credit rating, the actual value of the car and vehicle history, Steele said.

The company spends eight hours reconditioning used vehicles with a 115-point inspection so it will be a reliable car for someone, he said. Ultimately, that leads to better loan performance.

“Once we put our stamp of approval on a car, it’s our car until it sells,” Steele said. “We don’t wholesale it out if it doesn’t sell right away.’

CONDOminium SALES

John Tippins of Northcap Advisors reported 181 luxury condominium sales in the fourth quarter at an average price of $262,432 per unit, or $187 a square foot, and 113 condo-hotel sales at an average $246,533, or $328 a square foot.

Trump Las Vegas was the top seller during the quarter with 52 closings at an average of $306,039 a unit, followed by Signature at MGM Grand with 41 closings at an average of $218,282. Among luxury condos, The Martin had 31 sales at an average of $344,977 a unit.

Mandarin Oriental recorded the highest price at $1.25 million for a two-bedroom unit; Park Towers was second at $1.2 million for a three-bedroom unit.

Tippins, who manages several condo projects in Las Vegas that were financed by Corus Bank when it was taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said it’s “pretty awesome” how many people are wanting to live downtown. He’s leased 165 residences at Juhl since opening the mixed-use condo project in November, or 54 percent of the units.

VALUATION TEAM

Colliers International has launched a valuation and advisory services group led by brokerage industry veteran Joshua Smith. The group will focus on delivering insight into a property’s fundamentals, competitors and the overall market dynamics affecting value.

By examining a property’s unique characteristics, a more accurate opinion of a property’s value can be formed, Smith said, which often means the difference between achieving or failing to reach key real estate goals.

COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS

Ben Millis of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank represented the landlord, Rosalie Dynasty Trust, in leasing 2,500 square feet of office space for 60 months at 3131 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 110, to Anthony Borgia, doing business as Southern Nevada Foot and Ankle Center. The 60-month lease transaction value was $180,628.

Ben Millis, Doug Schuster, Curt Allsop and Vittal Ram of Newmark Grubb represented James Donell, acting as receiver, in the sale of 46,545 square feet of office space at 1700 E. Desert Inn Road to a limited liability company for $1.3 million.

Mike DeLew and Greg Pancirov of Colliers International represented Dean and Penny Brunner 1985 Trust in the sale of a 12,000-square-foot industrial property at 4705 Copper Sage Road to Nikkiso America Inc. for $839,888.

Ryan Martin of Colliers represented Inview Labs in the 36-month lease of 5,442 square feet of office space at 9225 W. Flamingo Road, Suite 130, for $238,368. Chris Connell of Colliers International represented the lessor, West Flamingo Road.

Nick Barber and Jeremy Foley of Gatski Commercial represented Clark Fork Properties in the sale of four office and industrial buildings totaling 36,482 square feet at 1716 and 1800 Industrial Road. The sales price was $960,000.

Charles Moore and Marlene Fujita Winkel of CBRE represented Center Crossing in the $2.7 million sale of a 17,763-square-foot office building at 1491 Center Crossing Road. Greg Tassi of CBRE represented the buyer, Meyer Farms.

Tim Erickson and Tina Taylor of Marcus & Millichap represented a limited liability company in the sale of a 6,245-square-foot industrial property at 5154 W. Patrick Lane for $370,000.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

 

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