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Mining For Bargain-Basement Investments In Ely, NV

Written by Posted On Monday, 01 May 2006 17:00

ELY, NV -- Where US Highways 93, 50 and 6 intersect, a high-desert mining town and railroad outpost, midway between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, has been named a "viable real estate market for investors" -- at least until fossil fuels run dry and mineral deposits are tapped out.

Just 50 miles west of Great Basins National Park, the 7.1-square-mile-town of Ely, NV, population 5,000, has a smaller stock of existing housing units (2,200) than many cities have listings of homes for sale but that's triggering a housing shortage as locals enjoy indigenous economic expansion, according to National Association of Residential Real Estate Investment Advisors.

The associations' more than 50 real estate investment advisors report on local market conditions around the nation and say investors in the Ely loop early on purchased homes for less than $20,000. After rehabs and upgrades, the homes sold for more than $40,000 or rented for $700 a month -- instant positive cash flow.

A recent search of the 89301 Ely ZIP code on Realtor.com turned up nearly four dozen listings, ranging from homes for less than $100,000 to one for more than $3 million.

Among the listings:

  • About a half dozen homes for less than $100,000, including a 76-year-old, $75,000, two-bedroom, three-bath, 1,754 square foot house.

  • About a dozen listings of homes in the $100,000s including a 28-year-old home for $165,000 with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,450 square feet on five acres.

  • Another group of homes from the low $200,000s to the low $300,000s including a 2,100-square-foot, 26-year-old home for $315,000 with five bedrooms, three bathrooms and more than five acres.

  • A more than $3 million, five-bedroom, two-bath, 3,000-square-foot spread on 160 acres.

"We even had one of our investors up on his roof replacing shingles, and a local resident walked by asking if the house was available for rent. I've never heard of and investor renting his place from his rooftop," said Sean Brown, CEO and founder of NARREIA.

"The return on the investment is huge, especially if you do several of these deals together like several of our members have done," he added.

Nearly a ghost town just a few years ago, the local economy is breathing new life into the town, according to the advisors.

  • In August 2004, Quadra Mining Ltd., an international mining company using the latest mining technology, reopened a copper and gold mine just outside of Ely, creating about 350 new jobs.

  • In the fall of 2004, Eden Energy acquired 211,000 acres near Ely to begin exploration and development of what several researchers believe is a giant oil field, named the "Noah Project." Job-heavy exploration of the area will continue through 2006.

  • In January 2006, Sierra Pacific Resources announced plans to build a new coal-burning electrical plant 45 minutes to the north. Ely is the nearest town for employees to find housing. The $5 billion Ely Energy Center will be the largest energy project in Nevada since the construction of the Hoover Dam and employ as many as 2,000 construction workers during the building. Some 300, largely white-collar jobs will be permanent additions to the plant's operation.

"A few years ago, this place was like a ghost town," says Tara Klaas, a local real estate agent.

But that's changed.

The association of investment advisors say the lack of rental housing has already forced some new workers into hotels until rental housing is available.

Ely, on the southern end of the Steptoe Valley at the foothills of the Egan Range of mountains, has run the Ghost Train of Old Ely since 1986 with both original steam and diesel locomotives pulling passenger excursion trains along the sagebrush dotted Nevada Northern line.

One hundred years ago, the train served pit mines in Ruth to the south and a smelter at the old McGill Ranch to the north on the way to the main line in Cobre.

The Nevada Northern Railway Museum is celebrating the first centennial of the short-lived 1905 to 1907 Ghost Train line.

A long stretch of road on U.S. Highway 318 in Ely hosts an annual 90 mile Silver State Classic Cannonball Run style race. The climatic scene of the 2001 movie Rat Race was filmed in Ely, in and around the restored train depot of the railway museum.

The 120-year-old town of Ely is also the White Pine County seat and the center of commerce and industry in sparsely-populated eastern Nevada.

Not for everyone, at an elevation of nearly 6,500 feet, Ely's high-desert but temperate climate features dry, sunny weather and annual average temperatures ranging from 28 to 61 degrees Fahrenheit

Along with the spectacular Great Basin National Park, the area's attractions include Cave Lake State Park a popular spot for fishing, camping, and hiking.

Birthplace of former first lady Pat Nixon, Ely is also is near an uninvestigated UFO sighting. In 1950, nine miles to the south, the George Smith family observed a silvery white object hovering at about 100 feet for 10 minutes before it zoomed out of sight.

The housing market may be headed in that direction.

"We're like the old boom towns of the American Southwest, with people flocking here in droves because of all the new jobs. There simply aren't enough affordable homes for people to buy or rent. I get several people a day asking me if a new place is available for them to stay in," Klaas added.

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Broderick Perkins

A journalist for more than 35-years, Broderick Perkins parlayed an old-school, daily newspaper career into a digital news service - Silicon Valley, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com. DeadlineNews.Com offers editorial consulting services and editorial content covering real estate, personal finance and consumer news. You can find DeadlineNews.Com on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter  and Google+

www.deadlinenews.com/

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