During last decade’s boom in Las Vegas, the construction crane became the unofficial state bird and a sign of an expanding economy.
These days, there appears to be another barometer about how residents view the housing market and the local economy — the lowly, often dinged-up dumpster.
Across the valley, dumpsters are sprouting in neighborhoods, and waste management companies report brisk business from residents renting the trash bins or requesting debris removal.
Republic Services and Discount Dumpsters report that rentals are up more than 10 percent in recent months and attribute it to residents not only remodeling but doing landscaping as well.
“What we have been seeing is that people are staying in their homes and remodeling them instead of moving,” said Tracy Skenandore, area director of marketing and public relations for Republic Services. “That applies to businesses as well. Instead of buying new, they’ve been rehabbing.”
According to its website, Republic Services rents 10 dumpsters ranging in size from 2 cubic feet to 40 cubic feet. Republic Services charges $480 for a two-week rental for the 40-cubic yard dumpster. It’s $355 for 28 cubic yards and $295 for 20 cubic yards. Demand is so strong, Republic says, that is does not have the 40-cubic yard dumpster in stock.
Scott Seastrand, vice president of Discount Dumpsters, has seen the same trend.
He says it appears to be homeowners rather than speculators rehabbing, and attributes increased rentals to pent-up demand as people waited for the housing market and economy to recover. Discount Dumpsters rents a 15-cubic-yard dumpster for $345, a 30-yard dumpster for $385 and a 40-yard dumpster for $415. The rental period is 15 days.
“I think if people are willing to reinvest in their properties, they must have some sense of security,” Seastrand said. “With home values stabilizing, individuals are looking at their properties as something positive instead of being a negative.”
Jerry Pasquale, a managing member of GraEagle Construction, said home remodeling work started picking up in November and December. People are redoing kitchens and bathrooms and making homes more accessible for those with disabilities.
“Instead of buying new houses, they want to keep what they have and fix it.”
INVEST AND IMPROVE
Among those remodeling is Lynn Ousley, who retired last summer from NV Energy as an assistant to the chief executive. Ousley has lived in her Sunrise Mountain-area home since 1980. She is upgrading three bedrooms and has installed new doors, carpet, windows and window coverings.
Ousley said her home value hasn’t bounced back enough to consider selling her home, but has recovered enough that she wanted to invest, improve and enhance its value.
She didn’t rent a dumpster but rented a storage bin while remodeling.
“I think a lot of people feel like I do, that it’s best to keep your investment, especially if you close to paying off the home,” Ousley said. “I think it’s best to put your money where you live. It will be worth something when I’m ready to sell.”
Another is Ron Voight, who lives on Kirkland Avenue near Palace Station. He bought his 1960s-era home a year ago and rented a dumpster. He’s redone the kitchen and is now working to fix the garage, which was poorly remodeled in the past. He said he bought the home for $150,000, and values have risen enough to make an investment.
“The top price paid for this house was $380,000, and there’s room to move towards that,” Voight said.
Median home prices reached $315,000 in June 2006 and fell to $118,000 in January 2012. They bounced back to $195,000 in March, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.
“I do feel we have seen an increase in consumer confidence because we have more jobs and our economy has gotten stronger,” association President Heidi Kasama said. “We have a long ways to go, but the trend is positive. People feel more secure with their jobs compared to a couple of years ago, when people were wondering if they were going to keep them.”
STAYING PUT AND REMODELING
Homeowners have been careful with their money as the economy recovers. Instead of buying up, many are staying put and changing out flooring and resurfacing cabinets, Kasama said. Many consider remodeling a good alternative.
“When homes were so undervalued, it created a hopeless feeling in people that it will never come back, and they didn’t want to put anymore money into it,” Kasama said. “Now that the value is coming up, I think people are feeling this isn’t hopeless. ‘I’m starting to see a little equity. I think I’ll stay here and invest in my home.’ That’s because people feel more stable with their jobs that they’re willing to make that investment now.”
Tim Reardon, co-owner of JunkMan, which rents dumpsters and offers a hauling service, said his company launched two years ago in hopes the economy would improve. His 15-cubic yard dumpster rents for $299, and he charges as much as $519 to cart away debris if you don’t use a dumpster.
Business has doubled in recent months, he said.
“I think the economy is getting better, home prices have gone up and people are more comfortable spending money on their homes,” Reardon said. “I’m in the middle of a kitchen remodel at my house, and that’s not something I would have done three years ago.”