When the Las Vegas housing market cratered during the recession.
When construction of luxury condominiums and housing developments screeched to a halt.
When foreclosures and short sales were rampant. When things looked their bleakest, DK Las Vegas saw opportunity.
The real estate investment group swooped in, snapping up hundreds of condo units at bargain basement prices — 1,300 in five condo communities around the valley.
It was a $257 million gamble. And it’s paying off — big.
“We really saw all the economic indicators going in a positive way for Las Vegas, and we were able to buy these condos at below replacement costs,” said Uri Vaknin, a partner at KRE Capital, the group that acquired the condos in partnership with Dune Real Estate as DK Las Vegas.
The new company bought into the Ogden and Juhl in downtown Las Vegas and One Las Vegas in the south valley at an average price of $199,627 per unit.
It renovated the units and has been steadily selling them for prices starting in the high $300,000s and climbing to $1.1 million.
The group bought 248 of the 275 units at the Ogden, where it did $2.5 million of upgrades to the individual units and common spaces, including the lobby, club rooms and sky decks. Some units saw up to $100,000 in upgrades.
Chris Bishop, president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, said the condo market has seen a sizable bump this year.
“The average condo price on the market is $166,000, which is up 20 percent from the same time last year,” Bishop said. “So, they’ve actually seen one of the strongest increase in the valley.”
Plenty of buyers are also looking for luxury condos, Vaknin said.
“They thought it’s downtown, so there would be all these small studios and one- and two-bedroom units, and that is not the case with this building,” Vaknin said of the Ogden. “We sold out of our one- and two-bedrooms quickly. Then we realized that there was a missing thing in the market — larger condos with a higher finish level.”
The Ogden features units with up to three bedrooms and a den that can serve as a fourth bedroom. And the kitchens, bathrooms, lighting fixtures and flooring have all been upgraded.
“Buyers responded really quickly to that and before we could finish these units, they were being sold,” Vaknin said. “Our goal was to see how we could sell these larger homes, and the upgrades have been an incredible success.”
Many buyers have been from California, Vaknin said.
“If you go to downtown Los Angeles, you’re spending over $1,000 per square foot,” he said. “What you can get a studio for in L.A., you can get a four-bedroom condo at the Ogden.”
The Ogden, located near Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street, also offers easy access to downtown attractions and amenities, including the casinos of Glitter Gulch.
“They want to walk out the front door and go to restaurants, bars and museums and clubs, and you can do that at the Ogden,” Vaknin said. “When you live out in Summerlin or Henderson, you really can’t do that. It’s exciting for those moving into our community from other parts. It’s exciting to have that option in Las Vegas.”
Bishop predicted that the high-rise condo market is only going to get bigger, with several projects planned near the Strip. “There are so many things going on down there,” he said.