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Developer building rare rental house project in Las Vegas

A California real estate giant is building another rental house community in Las Vegas, a rare project here, and could develop several more.

American Homes 4 Rent, a dominant landlord of rental houses in Southern Nevada and other markets, is developing a project in the south valley that will feature 35 single-family homes. It expects to deliver the first 10 homes this month and complete the rest by year’s end, the company told the Review-Journal.

The project, Cactus Cliff, is on Cactus Avenue just west of Maryland Parkway. Houses span from about 1,800 to 2,200 square feet, with monthly rents starting in the $1,700 range, the company said in a news release Tuesday announcing the project.

This marks its second such project in Las Vegas. The first, Big Buffalo, on Buffalo Drive just south of Russell Road in the Spring Valley area, opened in May and features 34 houses, the company said.

Las Vegas’ rental market grew fast after the housing market imploded more than a decade ago. Investors bought cheap houses throughout the valley to turn into rentals, and developers have been flooding Southern Nevada with apartment projects in recent years.

But a blend of the two ventures — newly built single-family-housing rental projects — appears to make up a smaller but growing slice of U.S. housing.

Las Vegas real estate tracker Andrew Smith, president of Home Builders Research, said he can state “with quite a bit of certainty” that such projects had not been built locally until American Homes started developing them.

More could be on the way. Zack Johnson, executive vice president of acquisitions and development at American Homes, said the company controls 1,000 lots in 13 subdivisions in the Las Vegas area.

Overall, he said, the company has developed 54 “build-to-rent” projects around the U.S. and has continued buying land for new communities during the coronavirus pandemic, which has wiped out jobs across the country and hit Las Vegas’ economy especially hard.

With masses of people working from home because of the outbreak, Johnson said, house hunters want extra space. Big Buffalo, which debuted after the pandemic shut down much of the economy virtually overnight, is fully leased, he said.

Billionaire B. Wayne Hughes, the 86-year-old co-founder of self-storage chain Public Storage, helped launch American Homes 4 Rent in 2011 after the U.S. housing bubble burst and while the economy was badly battered.

It was a ripe time for rental investors: Home prices were cheap, and widespread foreclosures, short sales and bankruptcies had made it all but impossible for many people to buy a place.

American Homes, based in Agoura Hills, California, owned more than 52,000 rental houses as of June 30, including more than 1,000 in the Las Vegas area, a securities filing shows.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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