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Trump tariffs raising costs for Las Vegas homebuilders

Updated September 26, 2018 - 4:46 pm

Las Vegas homebuilders are fetching rapid sales and record prices, a new report shows, but President Donald Trump’s tariffs are inflating construction costs amid heightened affordability concerns.

Builders closed 927 new-home sales in Southern Nevada in August, up 13.6 percent from the same month last year, according to Las Vegas-based Home Builders Research.

That brought the year’s sales total to 6,943, up 19.2 percent from the same eight-month period in 2017.

The median sales price of August’s closings was a record $394,203, up 15.1 percent from a year earlier, the firm reported.

Affordability “continues to drive headlines in the housing industry,” Home Builders Research President Andrew Smith and founder Dennis Smith said in the report. Builders’ sales prices have climbed amid an ongoing labor shortage and higher land costs, and as the Smiths wrote, Trump’s tariffs are affecting the housing market “on multiple fronts.”

His levies on imported lumber, steel and aluminum have sparked concerns that the higher costs will slow development and push up prices for buyers and renters.

The Trump administration’s 20 percent tariffs on imported Canadian softwood lumber, for instance, “are needlessly increasing lumber prices” and “making housing less affordable for American families,” according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Moreover, Trump’s “well-intentioned” threat this month to levy an additional $267 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods “will be counterproductive by raising costs” for American consumers and businesses, including builders, NAHB Chairman Randy Noel said in a statement.

Collectively, the Smiths wrote, these issues and others have left many people “waiting for the next crash, correction, bubble, pick your favorite buzz word, to hit the housing sector.”

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

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