Q: With the emergence of mid-rise and high-rise properties in the valley, I have been interested in possibly living in one. My first question is what is the difference between a mid-rise and a high-rise property? Secondly, what type of amenities or benefits (i.e. shopping/restaurants, low maintenance costs) and fees (i.e. parking, homeowners association) can one expect to have with these types of properties? – Austin J., Las Vegas
A: With land and construction costs rising rapidly in the past few years, and with Las Vegas becoming an increasingly popular destination for visitors and new residents, it was only a matter of time before we started seeing more mid-rise and high-rise residential developments here. All you have to do is drive around town, especially on and around the Strip, to see how dozens of new vertical developments are changing the Las Vegas skyline.
Of course, these developments are also changing how we live. Vertical developments generally attract buyers who want a more metropolitan, carefree and resort-style place to live. Of course, many buyers of the luxury high-rises that have been built here in recent years are from outside Las Vegas. Many of these buyers bought high-rise or mid-rise condominiums as an investment or a second home.
Either way, vertical living offers several benefits and a wide range of resort-like amenities. First, and to benefit all local residents, such projects offer new housing options we haven’t really had before in Las Vegas. Home buyers now have more choices than ever before. But with all the new projects being marketed in Las Vegas, selecting the right place for you can be a daunting task.
To answer the first part of your question, the difference between a mid-rise and a high-rise project is subjective. It’s basically about height. While definitions vary, it’s safe to say that anything 10 or more stories is considered a high-rise. Buildings between four and nine stories are often defined as mid-rise projects.
Besides height and amenities, other differences between mid-rise and high-rise projects are the price and the view. Generally, the higher you go, the better the view and the higher the price. Many people pay a premium to have an unobstructed view of the city. On the high end, penthouse suites atop existing high-rises like Turnberry Place, Park Towers, Panorama Towers and others sell for several million dollars apiece. Smaller units on lower floors and in smaller buildings can start at as little as $400,000 or $500,000.
Amenities are another thing that sets these projects apart from your typical single-family home. Every project strives to offer something unique, from first-class luxury spas to gourmet restaurants, high-end shops, salons, gyms, dry cleaners, valet and concierge services. But before moving into one of these developments, it’s important to research each project and select the best place for your lifestyle. For instance, look beyond the purchase price and find out what your association and other monthly fees will be before determining what you can afford. Fees in some luxury high-rises can rival the monthly payment on a median-priced detached home here in Las Vegas.
That being said, there are obvious benefits to buying into this lifestyle. For one, maintenance is at a minimum. There’s no yard work or exterior maintenance to worry about. And many people appreciate the security offered in such projects.
As for appreciation, mid-rise and high-rise projects have fared about as well as traditional single-family housing here in Las Vegas, with prices rising rapidly until 2005, when the market began to stabilize and prices hit a plateau.
I also want to address something that you did not ask about, but I feel is important. When the high-rise boom hit Las Vegas a few years ago, many developers planned or announced projects, but never built them. While it’s less of a concern now that the market has begun to sort out the contenders from the pretenders, you should still use caution and do as much homework as possible on the project, the developer, their track record and their previous projects. Some successful high-rises in Las Vegas were built by first-time developers. But that’s the exception to the rule. Experts will tell you it’s generally safer to buy from builders with a successful history of building similar projects elsewhere.
Devin Reiss is the president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and has worked in the real estate market for more than a decade. GLVAR has more than 17,500 members. To ask Reiss a question, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit lasvegasrealtor.com.