4 Things to Know Before Buying a Midcentury Modern Las Vegas Home

Homebuyers who love vintage Vegas may want to take a close look at the city's midcentury modern homes.

U.S. News & World Report

4 Things to Know Before Buying a Midcentury Modern Las Vegas Home

Summerlin is an affluent master-planned community in the Las Vegas Valley of Nevada.

Living in a midcentury modern home is different from living in a house that was recently built.(Getty Images)

A new property in a gated community is ideal for some Las Vegas homebuyers, but if you're seeking a property with a bit more charm, one of the city's midcentury modern homes may be more your taste.

Broadly speaking, midcentury modern homes were built between the end of World War II and 1970. "They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles," says Jack LeVine, a Realtor with Bella Vegas Homes Realty who specializes in historic neighborhoods and midcentury modern architecture. "Currently, the most popular style is Palm Springs modern, which means flat or low-pitched roofs, overlapping roof lines, high windows and big walls of glass. And, there's lots of them in Vegas."

Even buyers who are not obsessed with the architecture are increasingly considering these older homes because they're often centrally located and therefore offer shorter commutes. But whether you're a vintage architecture aficionado or just attracted to a convenient location, buying a midcentury home comes with special considerations. U.S. News gathered advice from some of Las Vegas' top real estate agents on what buyers should know before they put down an offer.

Know the neighborhoods – and your price range.

Determining what you can realistically afford in terms of a loan and renovations is always a smart place to begin your search for a new home. Midcentury modern homes are available in a wide price range, from the low six figures to more than $1 million, and knowing your budget can help narrow your search in terms of neighborhoods.

According to LeVine, if your budget falls on the lower end of the range, you should be open to a more transitional area. "If you're priced out of [more expensive neighborhoods], we now have adventuresome people moving into neighborhoods with great architecture, but that haven't been as popular so far, like Francisco Park and Mayfair," he says. But, he warns some neighborhoods will likely never be worth the investment, so work with an agent who understands each neighborhood's buying trends.

If you can afford between $300,000 and $400,000, consider homes in the John S. Park neighborhood. You'll find luxury midcentury modern homes in the Scotch 80s and McNeil Estates.

Get a thorough inspection.

Because midcentury modern homes are older, agents agree that hiring a reputable inspector is a necessity. Even homes that have been renovated can have hidden issues.

"It is common that a flipper gets done with a home, and it looks fabulous. Then, we do an inspection and find out all the things that they did not do," LeVine says. Based on his experience, sewer lines often need to be repaired or replaced, which can mean having to rip out flooring.

Think about renovation and reselling.

As with any older property, a midcentury modern home may require renovation. LeVine estimates only a small percentage require a top-to-bottom redo. "There are false conceptions about these homes being a money pit," he says. Still, you may want to replace appliances, update flooring or make the living space more open. So, it's helpful to have the cash for these projects.

Diane Varney, global luxury Realtor with Coldwell Banker Premier Realty, says, "You have to have the vision to get past aesthetic things that can change – walls you can knock out or appliances you can replace. So, keep an open mind. You can keep the vintage appeal, but have a modern influence."

But, you should also keep in mind which renovations bring the most return on your investment for when you resell the home. Some buyers want period kitchens and bathrooms, so you may not want to rip out all the original tile, for example.

Also, midcentury modern homes are typically not very energy-efficient, but LeVine says replacing the windows is not always necessary. Instead, he suggests recaulking the windows and replacing the weatherstripping. He also recommends starting outside. "If you want to add value fast, work on improving the outside look of the house."

Understand the lifestyle.

Ultimately, living in a midcentury modern home is different from living in a house that was recently built. For example, the ceilings are probably lower, and the lots are typically bigger. You want to be sure you're OK with a cozier inside and a more expansive landscape, which can require more upkeep.

And, of course, the home is simply older. "The most important thing buyers need to realize is it's like they're buying an antique car," says Kenneth Lowman, broker/owner of Luxury Homes of Las Vegas. "A midcentury modern home is going to need more tender, loving care, and there might be some things you have to live without."

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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