When you think of the top spots for home construction around the Las Vegas Valley, you’ll likely point to areas like Summerlin, the southwest and Henderson.
But sales are rising fastest in another spot altogether: the east side of town.
Compared with other sections of the valley, the east side is older and largely overlooked by developers. But its home prices are lower and, amid affordability concerns in the valley, buyers are showing up.
Builders closed 525 new-home sales in the eastern Las Vegas Valley last year, up 89.5 percent from 2017 — by far the fastest growth rate among valley submarkets, according to Las Vegas-based Home Builders Research.
To be sure, builders’ sales volume there was a fraction of what they fetched in other areas. Developers last year closed the most sales in the southwest, at 3,741, and second-fewest in the eastern valley, Home Builders Research reported.
But there’s a simple reason why its sales totals are climbing fast.
“The bottom line is price,” Home Builders Research President Andrew Smith said. “That’s the most affordable area.”
Overall last year, the median sales price of newly built homes in the valley was about $383,700, according to SalesTraq, the residential research arm of Las Vegas consulting firm Applied Analysis.
By comparison, the average sales price in the eastern valley for builder LGI Homes is in the mid-$200,000 range, according to division president Chris Kelly, who oversees Western U.S. operations.
The Texas-based developer focuses on entry-level buyers and expanded to Las Vegas last year. Its current project sites are exclusively in the eastern valley, and as Kelly confirmed, it has closed more than 50 sales so far — all at a subdivision on Lake Mead Boulevard near Lamb Boulevard.
He said the company aims to offer a “great value for first-time buyers who, frankly, might be priced out” of more “desirable” areas like Henderson or Summerlin.
There isn’t much vacant land on the east side, but builders aren’t exactly lining up to buy what’s left. Kelly said this week that when LGI bought its project sites here, it felt like his company was the only one looking at them.
As of spring 2018, the first two sites that LGI acquired in Las Vegas had eyesore neighbors. One was down the street from a cluster of abandoned, vandalized homes, whose owner had been hit with abatement notices from Clark County saying the structures were fire-damaged and “open to vagrants and rodents.” The other site was next to a vacant lot that had been overtaken by a homeless camp.
But after a year in which Las Vegas home prices grew at one of the fastest rates in the nation, homebuilders fetched record prices in Southern Nevada, and resales tumbled amid worries that buyers were getting squeezed out, less-expensive houses will likely get plenty of attention in 2019.
As Smith put it: “I think the demand is huge.”