Las Vegas -- Real Estate -- For Housing, Not Investment
March 5, 2015 9:24 AM   Subscribe

I have an adult disabled son who has been living in Las Vegas for five years. I am considering purchasing housing in Las Vegas for him to live in. I would like your advice. Details below the fold.

I have an adult disabled son who has been living in Las Vegas for five years. He likes LV and has never expressed a desire to move anywhere else. I'm his payee for SSI and pay his rent and expenses, allowance, etc. Mostly he has been living at Siegel Suites, which is a no-deposit, all-utilities-included type long-term stay hotel. Not bad, but pretty low-end housing. His SSI pays about 65 to 75 percent of his expenses, and I pay the rest.

Now that I have paid off all of my debts, have been a professional for a while, have inherited from my parents, it seems to me that I can purchase housing in Las Vegas in my name for him to live in without too much difficulty, particularly given the low price of LV housing. (I don't have any other children or relations who need my resources.) It will be higher quality housing, and more stable for him. I think it will be cheaper in the long run. I'm checking with a lawyer, but my plan (if it is permitted legally) is to put the property in his special needs trust at some point. I appreciate that I will need to take on utilities, maintenance, and repairs, on top of whatever mortgage there might be. He would pay some amount of rent to me.

But as a long-term renter in SF, I am a real estate neophyte. Compared to where I live, the housing is crazy cheap. There are many many one-bedroom condos in the $77,000 to $90,000 range. There are "townhouses" -- which is a different category of real estate -- that are $150,000 or so. The real estate agent is telling me that the townhouses are less risky, that the condos often cannot be financed because the condo complex is in litigation, or there are too many renters. (I could pay cash for a condo, but that seems wacky given the low interest rates for real estate, and the decent return on investment with the current stock market.) Also the monthly HOA for townhouses is about $60 or $70, while the condo fees are more like $200.

So tell me hive mind -- how do I figure this out? I am particularly interested in hearing from people who understand Las Vegas real estate. Also from people with adult disabled children. Feel free to also tell me that this is a terrible idea.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One distinction between townhouses and condos in Las Vegas is that owners are responsible for the roof of a townhouse but condo associations are responsible for the roof and exterior of condo buildings. Condo fees in LV also typically include lighting & landscaping of common areas, pest control, water (but not sewer), and trash pickup.
posted by zepheria at 10:09 AM on March 5, 2015

In his current living situation, does the facility handle meals, housekeeping, laundry, or is he responsible for those? If it's the facility, consider how would you transition support for those services to a more independent living situation, and how that would affect your costs.
posted by KathrynT at 10:23 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've worked with some disabled adults who live in condos owned by family members. Sometimes this works out great - stable situation for the person, less expensive for the family. I've also seen it go badly - sometimes the disabled adult is perceived as a nuisance or a threat by neighbors, which can cause many different problems. Occasionally, the neighbors are correct - the person is creating issues (inappropriate noise, garbage, etc) because they don't have the ability to regulate their behavior. More often, the disabled adult is doing just fine & is not a nuisance at all, but the neighbors are uneasy for whatever reason and the neighbors create the problem. Sometimes, the disabled adult lives alone in the condo for years without issue, but then a new neighbor moves in, or the person's mental status changes for some reason, and suddenly there's a problem.

I don't know if this relates to your son's situation, but it may be something to consider. Feel free to memail or email me if you want more specifics.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:11 AM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

My parents bought a condo for a relative with disabling mental health issues and it was mostly a very successful strategy to allow her to live independently, although with a care manager who checked in every week or so. Although there can always be problems with neighbors, having a lease or being an owner might actually give your son more protection in the long run--presumably his extended stay motel can just tell him to get out without notice.

I think the biggest issue with moving from an extended stay hotel situation to a condo or townhouse is likely to be repairs/maintenance--what is the owner of the unit responsible for, both within the unit and in terms of common areas. What are you willing to be responsible for from a distance?

Things to look into might be (as you note) pending litigation, which may be searchable through the LV or Nevada court system, the health of the condo association's capital maintenance fund (You probably don't want to be hit with a $15,000 assessment on a $75,000 condo), the % of renters (lots of renters can mean less stability in the condo complex as well as a possible lack of engagement in the collective well-being of the complex).
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:13 PM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

My apologies if you've covered this already, but if your son is on SSI, you might want to talk to a lawyer about how to do it so his benefits won't be impacted.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:58 PM on March 5, 2015

His SSI benefits should not be impacted if the property is placed in a special needs trust; it sounds to me that the OP understands the potential legal ramifications there and is seeking legal counsel anyways so that should be alright.

I have no LV or real estate experience but I do have a profoundly disabled (and sort of independent) relative. In my situation, things I would be concerned about are:

Social issues: in a hotel-type place, and in an apartment, there is some required interaction. Maybe so in a condo or a townhouse as well. But in some houses you could go days and days without interacting with anyone. My relative is also very easily taken advantage of and I would worry about other people living there or otherwise taking advantage of the situation. That might not be an issue for your son because of his personality, abilities, or if he has a care worker of some kind, but they are things I'd think about.

Neighborhood characteristics: transportation access, safety, proximity to stores, etc. Again, I have no idea how LV is but it's always something to consider.

And as others have asked, how would the maintenance work, particularly at a further time when you may not be able to act as his de facto property manager?
posted by epanalepsis at 11:49 AM on March 6, 2015

OK, rereading my answer, I want to clarify that my relative has cognitive disabilities. Obviously these affect a person's life management differently than physical or mental health disabilities. Since you haven't specified, feel free to ignore my considerations. You may have different considerations around his specific areas of strengths and weaknesses.
posted by epanalepsis at 12:16 PM on March 6, 2015

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