Cosmopolitan condo buyers get one hour for inspection

Buyers of condominiums at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas have taken to the streets in protest and filed lawsuits in an effort to inspect their new homes, many of which ranged in price from the high six- to low seven-figures.

Beginning next month several buyers will be granted an hour to inspect their condominiums before they’ll be required to close on their purchase, according to closing documents obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The notice-of-closing-date letter was sent to condo buyers in the resort’s West Tower on Dec. 30, notifying them that preclosing inspection will begin at 2 p.m. on Feb. 2, with closing scheduled for 3 p.m.

During the inspection, buyers will be asked to note damage, missing or incomplete items, defects on painted surfaces and doors, and any chips or scratches on appliances, plumbing and light fixtures.

They will also be asked to identify items that are not working properly or are in need of repair. Cosmopolitan officials said in a preclosing inspection letter that buyers would "be notified when the items" on their lists are resolved.

"We will strive to complete items as quickly as possible. Incomplete items will not postpone your closing date," the letter said.

Randolph Howard, a partner and senior trial lawyer with Kolesar & Leatham in Las Vegas, said an hour for a closing inspection was "not normal."

"What’s normal is giving buyers ample opportunity to conduct an inspection. I would say a matter of days is normal," said Howard.

Neither Kolesar & Leatham nor Howard "represents The Cosmopolitan or any party taking action against The Cosmopolitan," the law firm said in a statement.

He said he advises all his clients to hire an independent expert to complete a property inspection before escrow closes. The Cosmopolitan is allowing the buyer and one guest to attend the preclosing inspection.

He said it’s quite likely that some buyers are using this issue and the weak Las Vegas real estate market to try to get out of their deals.

"They probably realize they’ve spent $1,000 on new clothes that are now worth $500," Howard said.

Buyers at The Cosmopolitan received seven pages related to their condominiums, including a notice of closing date, a questionnaire, information about their inspection, an authorization form, change-of-address form, and contact information.

"If you are securing financing to complete your purchase, it is important that your financing be in place on the date of closing," said the preclosing inspection letter issued by Nevada Property 1 LLC. Nevada Property 1 and Deutsche Bank AG own the $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan.

The company directed buyers to Elaine Ravida, the property’s closing supervisor, to coordinate details with lenders before next month’s closing.

Ravida declined to comment on the number of closings scheduled for Feb. 2 and what would happen to the condominiums if buyers backed out of their deals. Messages left with Cosmopolitan public relations director Amy Rossetti were not returned.

The buyers were also scheduled to receive an estimated settlement statement from First American Title Insurance Co. with a line-item breakdown of their expected closing costs.

Deutsche Bank canceled the condominiums when the company took over the half-finished development in August 2008. The German bank took over the property for $1 billion when its original developer, Bruce Eichner, defaulted.

Eichner’s company, 3700 Associates, broke ground on The Cosmopolitan in October 2005. If all the buyers close on their deals, 214 condominiums will be occupied in a hotel-casino with 2,995 rooms.

Buyers were also asked whether they planned to use their condos as their primary residence, vacation home, or as a rental property. The hourlong orientation will also familiarize buyers with The Cosmopolitan, the letter said.

In April, Cosmopolitan developers completed a $60 million settlement with more than 400 buyers in a class action lawsuit. Buyers still under contract are represented by Andre Sherman, an attorney with Los Angeles-based Girardi Keese, Lisa Lawrence with Lurie & Park LLP in Los Angeles, and Sigal Chattah, a Las Vegas-based attorney with Sigal Chattah P.C.

Lawrence said none of her clients had received a notice of closing date from The Cosmopolitan. She said her clients were still waiting to receive recently a completed soundproofing report commissioned by The Cosmopolitan.

She said her motion to have the report released will be heard on Thursday in Las Vegas Superior Court.

"They don’t act like people who want to close on these sales," she said.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

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