See where Las Vegas’ new homes are being built
An old, familiar sight has returned to Las Vegas Valley: hammers and hard hats.
Southern Nevada homebuilders, who suffered huge job losses in recent years, have been ramping up work. Sales and prices are soaring as builders pull more permits for future projects.
Local builders sold 4,264 new homes this year through July, up 69 percent from the same period last year. The median price of July's closings was $266,291, up 37 percent from a year ago. Builders also pulled 4,384 permits through July, up 28 percent year-to-year, according to Home Builders Research.
Active projects form a ring around the valley with big clusters in the southwest and northwest, two areas with available land. (See map below.)
Despite its growth, the homebuilding business pales in comparison to the hyperinflated boom years. Sales peaked at almost 39,000 in 2005 and newly issued permits reached nearly 33,000 in 2004.
The market bottomed out in 2011 with 3,900 sales and 3,700 permits, said Dennis Smith, president of Home Builders Research.
Luxury builder Toll Bros., for instance, expects to sell 70 homes locally this year. That's up from 50 deals per year at the depths of the recession but far below its average — since 1997 — of 180, said Gary Mayo, regional group president.
Overall, a key reason for the valley's rising sales is the limited inventory of existing homes, Smith said.
Investors have been buying such houses in bulk to turn into rentals; availability also is crimped by homeowners who refuse to sell or can't sell because they're underwater or stuck in foreclosure processing delays. The shortage has pushed many would-be buyers into new homes.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas' unemployment rate remains high at 10 percent. Job growth is tepid at best and, as Smith sees it, isn't fueling the housing market's turnaround.
Even the construction sector isn't adding jobs, despite the uptick in work. The valley employed 36,900 people in construction as of July, down from 37,100 a year earlier, according to the Associated General Contractors of America.
"We're not out of this yet," Smith said of the shaky economy.
Home Builders Research