Summerlin’s surge in land sales signals a healthier Las Vegas housing market

A carpenter works on a new home at a residential construction site in the west side of the Las Vegas Valley in Las Vegas, April 5, 2013. Las Vegas Strip casinos are shown in the background.

Summerlin land sales almost quadrupled last quarter from a year before, a sign of homebuilders’ increased appetite in Las Vegas.

The 22,500-acre master-planned community, which runs along the western rim of the valley, had $28.2 million of residential land sales in the quarter ending March 31, up from $7.1 million a year earlier, according to a financial report Thursday from developer Howard Hughes Corp.

Last quarter’s revenue nearly matched the amount generated by all of last year’s Summerlin land sales, $31 million.

The Hughes corporation has three other master-planned communities — two in Texas and one in Maryland. However, CEO David Weinreb only discussed Summerlin in his comments in Thursday’s quarterly earnings report, saying he was “particularly pleased that the Las Vegas housing market is showing such strong improvement.”

Company officials sold 99 acres of residential land in Summerlin last quarter, up from 25 acres a year earlier. Over that period, the price per acre rose to $285,000 from $282,000.

Homebuilders’ sales also increased. Last quarter, there were 160 new-home sales in Summerlin, up 36 percent from 118 sales a year earlier, according to the Hughes corporation.

A total of 1,633 new homes were sold in the valley last quarter, almost double the same period last year, according to Las Vegas-based Home Builders Research.

Construction plans show no signs of slowing. Local builders pulled 1,793 permits in the first quarter, nearly double last year’s period.

Summerlin, which has about 100,000 people in 40,000 homes, is far from fully developed. It is planned for more than 200,000 residents in 80,000 homes and has a projected completion date of 2039.

Despite the rising sales in Las Vegas, Dallas-based Howard Hughes Corp. posted a $23 million first-quarter loss, compared to a $112 million loss in the same period last year.

Both quarters’ results stemmed from securities-related noncash “warrant” losses.

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