Updated 

Vegas on a roll with 8,500-home development


It’s like 2006 all over again — with a few twists.

Henderson’s 2,000-acre Inspirada master plan is launching a Saturday sales blitz of pre-recession magnitude, with 16 new model homes in nine subdivisions by KB Home, Pardee Homes and Toll Bros.

No master plan has debuted so many neighborhoods and models in one day since the downturn, said Dennis Smith, president and CEO of Home Builders Research in Las Vegas. You’d have to look to the days of 30,000 local building permits a year — back in 2005 or 2006 — to see this kind of single-day sales event. The confidence boost that results from the opening could have ripple effects across the housing market, Smith said.

“This is huge for home builders and contractors. If, in fact, it is as successful as people hope — and early reports are that it may be — then it really helps everybody with their projections on what’s going to happen in the future, and they’ll be able to hire more people.”

Added Klif Andrews, president of Pardee’s Las Vegas division: “It’s really exciting to get back into a market where buyers are eager to come out and see the newest, best thing. We’re happy to be at that point. We haven’t had a new master plan in Las Vegas in how many years?”

HOUSING UPTURN

The revival of Inspirada, which broke ground in 2006 but faltered in the Great Recession, may prove more than a morale boost, observers said. It could be a shot in the arm to lagging new-home sales and building permits, and a signal of trends in home design.

Start with construction. Local builders pull about 7,000 home-construction permits a year. But Inspirada could increase permitting activity in Southern Nevada by 10 percent to 20 percent in the next six to 18 months, Smith said. The only lingering question is whether early interest turns into sales, he said.

Inspirada’s builders say they see signs that curiosity will mean closings.

When Pardee Homes began building its interest list in April, executives would have been happy with 200 sign-ups, Andrews said. The roster stood at 400 as of Wednesday. KB Home has several hundred people on the interest list for the 220 or so homes in its current phase. And when Toll Bros. opened a new subdivision at Inspirada in January, executives would have been happy with roughly six sales a month, or about 40 sales through July, said division President David Straub. Instead, 76 units had been sold through Wednesday.

“There’s all this pent-up demand for new building,” Smith said. “There’s been so much inactivity, with a lack of confidence in the economy and so many people trapped in their houses with negative equity. Things are getting better, and people are thinking, ‘Maybe it’s time to look at something new. We can make our move and interest rates are going up.’”

There also may be more people able to buy. Boomerang buyers — homeowners who went through short sale or foreclosure four or five years ago — are at last able to purchase again with programs that give breaks to consumers with little credit trouble beyond a home default. Smith estimates half of buyers at Inspirada and other new developments may be boomerang buyers.

It also helps that there’s positive job growth, which means more people have income to buy.

“We’re definitely on the mend. The builders see that fact and are moving forward with Inspirada,” said John Restrepo, a principal with Las Vegas analysis firm RCG Economics.

NEW DESIGNS

Consumers returning to the market after a spell will see definite differences at Inspirada.

First, the master plan has switched gears on its initial New Urbanism design, which focused on smaller, attached homes with garages that opened onto rear alleys rather than street-front driveways. About 90 percent of Inspirada’s original design included alley-loaded homes; that’ll drop to 30 percent in the new iteration, a better reflection of the demand for that type of product, said Rob McGibney, president of KB Home Las Vegas.

Consumers will also see the revival of single-story homes, a product that went largely dormant marketwide in the boom as land prices soared and homes grew as tall as three stories to help hold down land costs.

Toll Bros.’ Bellante community will be entirely single-story. Also, KB Home, which is entitled to build up to 4,000 of Inspirada’s 8,500 permitted units, is rolling out three single-story plans on Saturday, including a 3,000-square-foot sprawler.

“The demand for larger, single-story homes has always been there,” McGibney said. “It’s just that now, with homes being more affordable, and with the energy-efficiency savings we offer, people can actually get into these homes at affordable prices.”

KB’s prices at Inspirada begin in the $190,000s, in line with the $199,900 median price of a single-family resale home in Las Vegas.

KB’s homes are larger in general at Inspirada, with plans of up to 4,343 square feet — a size KB hasn’t built locally since 2009, McGibney said.

“People want more space now. They feel more confident about larger purchases,” he said.

Builders are also unveiling new-to-market features at Inspirada.

All three builders are including standard, 12- to 15-foot sliding-glass doors onto backyard patios — a reflection of consumer surveys showing demand for open flow between indoor and outdoor spaces.

There are also nods to today’s multigenerational household. Most of KB’s floor plans have a bedroom and den on the first floor, for parents, in-laws or grown kids who still live at home.

Pardee is also offering optional, first-floor master suites while replacing formal living rooms with game rooms and bonus rooms as part of a “focus on casual living,” Andrews said.

Likewise, KB’s plans dispense with separate, formal dining rooms and living rooms in lieu of more open spaces.

There’s even a free Inspirada app, which buyers can download at the community’s information center. Users can stand on an overlook, aim their smart phone on a corner of the community and see panoramic views of what will be built there.

POPULAR PARKS

But one thing from Inspirada’s original plan hasn’t changed, Straub said.

“We’re still going to offer a New Urban, pedestrian-friendly development, with walkability throughout the community, and probably one of the most heavily parked developments in the valley,” he said. “We’ve worked closely with the City of Henderson to design parks that will be a destination for people from all over the valley.”

Inspirada is the first in a series of coming tests for the local new-home market, which saw sales stumble 34 percent year over year in the first half of 2014 as inventory ran out, Smith said. The Cadence master plan in southeast Henderson is now selling land to builders, and Skye Canyon in the northwest held its groundbreaking in June, with models scheduled to open in 2015.

“Homebuilders are sitting on the edge of their seats to see if this (Inspirada) really happens,” Smith said. “If it does, they’ll have to buy, buy, buy land for new construction.”

Restrepo said he doesn’t foresee a glut of new homes on the local market.

“In the last year or so, we’ve had a lack of product, rather than excess product,” he said. “We don’t have the supply overhang at this point to cannibalize other parts of the market.”

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com. Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.

 

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