Filed Under:

Las Vegas Housing Market Attracts Asian Investors

Play associated audio

Investors from Asia are taking advantage of housing prices that have plummeted in recent years, buying foreclosures and short sales at below what it would cost to build them.

Kevin Chu's Hong-Kong investment firm owns property in Las Vegas, but he's never seen any of it. So his first visit to the U.S. is to inspect the houses in Las Vegas.

In the past 18 months, the firm he works for, The Creations Group, bought up distressed homes all over the U.S. — including 13 Las Vegas houses at fire sale prices.

Tracy Bennett, the local property manager, is driving Chu to see one of his firm's houses that has just been renovated.

She points to a disaster of a house that's clearly vacant. Blue graffiti cover the garage. Trash is piled in the yard. Before anyone can say anything, Bennett laughs.

"I'm kidding," she says.

But it is a reminder of the bleak housing reality here, where foreclosure rates are more than three times the national average. Thousands of bank-owned properties that sit empty. Thankfully, for Chu, his real house down the block is in much better shape.

It's a modest one-story house. The firm bought it for $55,000. At the height of the market, it could have sold for more than $200,000. Inside it's clean, with fresh paint. It's ready for a tenant.

"It looks very good, much better than I expected," he says.

In fact, the U.S. housing market as a whole looks much better than expected to Chu's boss, Danny Lim.

"In some places the types of prices that we are getting, I think it's you know, once in a generation, perhaps once in a lifetime kind of opportunity," says Lim, who was in Miami looking for more property.

Andy Chu, a local real estate agent, says he is advertising in the Asian newspapers. He points out the strong rental market in Las Vegas means houses here can quickly become income-producing properties.

"We let them know, hey look, U.S. is a good place to invest," he says.

Andy Chu's clients from Asia are now a quarter of his business, and he wants more.

They're good customers. They often will buy several properties and pay in cash, which means he doesn't have to spend months waiting for financing to be approved.

"From a business perspective, you can get paid in four days or get paid in six months," he says.

The 2012 strategy for the Las Vegas chapter of the Asian Real Estate Association of America is to help local Realtors get even more international business through new Web tools and networking opportunities.

"If you are a homegrown product how do you network with someone in Canada? How do you work with someone in China, Vietnam or Taiwan? It is very hard. That's the reason why our association is trying to bridge that gap," explains Joseph Lai, the association's chapter president.

There aren't reliable data to know just how many properties in Las Vegas are selling to out-of-country buyers. Local Realtors say the bulk of their international business is coming from Asia and Canada. Lai says these buyers are helping the local housing market recover.

"International investors, we see them as absorbing a lot of the inventory," empty houses that otherwise might be left vacant, he says.

"They are going to come in, make them income-producing properties, and then they are going to fix them up, get them into livable shape, get them rented out," he says.

There is a backlog of tens of thousands more foreclosures expected to roll onto the Las Vegas market in the coming months. So that means soon there will be a lot more empty houses for eager investors to buy up.

Copyright 2011 KJZZ-FM. To see more, visit http://kjzz.org/.

NPR

Jhumpa Lahiri Finds Freedom In Italian Memoir: 'No One Expected Me To Do It'

The Interpreter of Maladies author is a successful, Pulitzer Prize-winning English-language writer. But she found writing in Italian gave her true freedom; "Language is a very messy thing," she says.
NPR

Gulf Of Mexico Open For Fish-Farming Business

For the first time, companies can apply to set up fish farms in U.S. federal waters. The government says the move will help reduce American dependence on foreign seafood and improve security.
WAMU 88.5

What's Behind Trends In U.S. Violent Crime Rates

FBI data suggest there was a slight uptick in violent crime in the first half of last year, but overall violent crime rates in the U.S. have dropped dramatically over the last twenty years. What led to the long-term decline, and why do some say it’s likely to continue?

WAMU 88.5

Blocked: Twitter's Role In Combating Violent Extremism

Over the course of seven months, Twitter has suspended over 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.