4 Things to Consider Before Buying a Las Vegas Condo

Thinking about purchasing a Las Vegas condo? Here’s what you need to know.

U.S. News & World Report

4 Things to Consider Before Buying a Las Vegas Condo

Las Vegas, USA - April 14, 2014: Veer Towers in CityCentre in Las Vegas. The complex was completed in 2010 and was designed by Murphy-Jahn Architects.(Getty Images)

Although condo living may not be as common in Las Vegas as it is in other cities, more buyers are considering condos an attractive alternative to a single-family home. For first-time homebuyers, condos are more affordable. For people looking for a vacation home, condos offer low upkeep. And, smaller spaces are attractive for anyone looking to downsize.

"As long as interest rates stay low and demand remains high, condos are going to do well. Things like the new medical schools and the tech sector downtown are going to attract young professionals who are interested in the condo lifestyle to the city core," says Jason Abrams, principal with the Abrams Group.

As with any home purchase, you want to consider your budget and where in town you want to live before starting your condo search. But, there are also some unique considerations when it comes to purchasing a condo. Top Las Vegas real estate agents,, suggest evaluating the following before making an offer.

The Homeowners Association

While many communities in Las Vegas have homeowners associations, they're particularly important to evaluate when you're buying a condo. "Most of the things you need to be aware of when buying a condo don't involve the unit itself. They have to do with the governing body that manages that property," Abrams says.

With condo developments, the homeowners association is often responsible for more maintenance, including the overall maintenance of the building. According to Abrams, the most important thing to know is whether the association is well-funded. "You should get a copy of its latest budget and make sure it's not close to being insolvent," he says. If there is a lack of funds, the building could fall into disrepair or your monthly association fees could increase.

Also, the rules set by the association may be stricter than those for the neighborhood. You should check all the rules for living in the development, including restrictions involving the size of pets you are allowed to own and the number of cars you can park on the property. Specifically, you want to review the declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions, or what is known in real estate as the CC&Rs. Of course, if you're looking for quieter living, you may appreciate more restrictions.

The Financing

Financing a condo can be different from financing a single-family home because many banks have requirements unique to getting approved for a condo. Banks require the condo's homeowners association to complete a questionnaire about pending construction litigation against the development's builder and occupancy ratio. If there is pending construction litigation, which is not uncommon, or if the property has more renters than owners living there, lenders may not loan you the money to purchase the condo.

But, don't fret. Some banks, such as Nevada State Bank, are starting to offer mortgages designed specifically for condo purchases. And, credit unions are also more willing to finance a condo. "First order of business if you're interested in getting a condo is going to your credit union before going to a larger institution," says Paul May, broker with Keller Williams Realty Southwest. He also recommends trying to get approved for a conventional loan before considering a Federal Housing Administration loan, which can have more strict requirements.

Your Lifestyle

There are a variety of condo options in town, and in order to decide what works for you, you should think about your lifestyle as well as your budget.

High-rise condos are the most expensive option. May says buyers face average prices in the mid-six figures and higher HOA fees. At the same time, the units also come with amazing amenities, such as a concierge, a modern gym, on-site spa facilities, theaters and even free limo service. Most of the high-rises are located near the city core and offer easy access to the Strip (which is why you need the limo). They also have incredible views.

Abrams says, "Here in Las Vegas, our beach stays lit up all night."

If you want a high-end feel but can't afford a high-rise, luxury mid-rise developments are a little less expensive. You just sacrifice a view and some amenities, like the limo.

For homebuyers whose primary consideration is saving money, garden-style or low-rise condos, typically two to three stories, are likely the best option. But, if your budget allows for more than a low-rise but not quite a mid, May suggests looking at town homes, which he says range from $150,000 to $300,000.

The Building

You should inspect the common areas in any development you're considering purchasing a condo in. Visit the pools. Look closely at any surrounding walls and landscaping. If things are in bad shape, you should reconsider. It could be a sign that the homeowners association is poorly managed. Not only could disrepair negatively impact your living experience, it could undermine the resale value of your unit over the long term.

May also advises his clients to avoid condo conversion communities. These are buildings that were previously apartments and have been converted to condos. "Typically they have more defects and structural problems than standard condo communities," he says.

Ultimately, you should rely on your own visual inspection and research. The loan process may turn up litigation over construction defects, but that can be worse than it sounds. "'Construction defect' sounds very ominous, but it might not have anything to do with major construction. It could be something small," Abrams says.

Looking for a real estate agent in Las Vegas? U.S. News’ Find an Agent tool can match you with the person who’s most qualified for the job.

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