Updated May 29, 2020 - 9:04 am
Homebuilding activity dropped sharply in Las Vegas last month amid the pandemic-sparked economic shutdown.
But as sales volume ticks higher from the depths of the turmoil, the worst may be over for the local housing market, a new report says.
Builders closed 703 home sales in Southern Nevada in April, down 20 percent from the same month last year, and pulled 443 new-home permits, down 50 percent, indicating a steep drop in the construction pipeline, according to figures released Thursday by Home Builders Research.
The median sales price of last month’s closings was $377,500, down 2.9 percent year over year.
Las Vegas’ main financial engine, tourism, effectively shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The housing market quickly felt the effects as the pipeline of sales shrank rapidly.
The market is still slumping, though it has shown some signs of stabilizing from the chaos.
“It seems, at this point at least, that the worst (effects) of the COVID-19 crisis are behind the local housing industry,” Home Builders Research President Andrew Smith wrote in his report, referring to the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Homebuilders’ weekly sales volume, which plunged after the pandemic hit, has picked up lately.
Builders posted 329 net sales — newly signed sales contracts minus cancellations — in the week ending March 8. That fell to just 38 in the week ending April 5 but bounced up to 159 in the week ending May 24, Smith reported.
Las Vegas’ economy is starting to reopen after Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered casinos and other Nevada businesses closed in March to help contain the virus’s spread. But overall, the pandemic obliterated much of the valley’s economy.
The Las Vegas area lost more than 200,000 jobs from March to April, putting its unemployment rate at a jaw-dropping 33.5 percent — up from just 4 percent in April of last year, state officials reported Wednesday.
Still, with the housing market showing signs of life, many real estate pros are optimistic about the short term. But there is “no denying that April was an extremely difficult month,” Smith wrote.
“All of the momentum was taken out of the local market,” he wrote.
Smith also cited an “almost unbelievable fact” that homebuilders did not close any purchases of raw land in Clark County last month.
He couldn’t recall that ever happening over the past five years at least.