There’s nothing like the resiliency of a master plan like Summerlin.
It dominated the national rankings in the 1990s after it launched in 1990, and was No. 1 in the nation until it lost that distinction in 2003 when it still had 2,873 sales.
Then the building boom era of the 2000s saw it passed by Southern Highlands, Anthem, Aliante, Mountain’s Edge and Providence, which were all were at one time in the top 10.
Five years ago when the 2013 rankings were released, Summerlin was still rebounding from the Great Recession and ranked 11th in the nation with 566 sales. Mountain’s Edge was fourth with 841 sales and Providence was seventh with 726 sales.
Many of those Summerlin competitors are mostly developed today and no longer in the top 50. Providence lost that top 50 distinction in 2017, and Mountain’s Edge fell out of the top 50 in 2018 after placing 41st in 2017. As former No. 1 during the housing boom, Mountain’s Edge had surpassed 2,200 sales a year. It reported 199 net sales through Dec. 9, according to RCLCO, a real estate consulting firm that tracks master plans.
Summerlin, which was as low as 25th in the nation in 2011 with 221 sales, has steadily climbed back up the rankings since then. It reported 437 sales in 2014, when it was 15th in the nation, and jumped back into the top 10 in 2015 and has stayed there since. It had 769 sales in 2016.
Fast forward to 2018, where Summerlin has now reached No. 3 in the nation — the first time it has cracked the top three since 2003. Summerlin’s sales rose 25 percent in 2018 to 1,318 and show no signs of slowing.
“It speaks volumes about Summerlin but it speaks volumes about Las Vegas as well,” said Summerlin President Kevin Orrock. “We have been ranked throughout the years everywhere from No. 1 to 25. If you look at the last eight years, we have progressively been working our way toward the top five. I said five to six years ago that by this time we would be in the top five because I have a lot of belief in Las Vegas history and the Las Vegas economy. I think our future is really bright. Will we ever get back to No 1? I don’t know. The fact we’re in the top five and economy is doing well and the population continues to increase and employment is strong, I think that is all positive. What we have delivered in this community, no one can replicate.”
Gregg Logan, managing director of RCLCO, said Summerlin’s longevity in cracking the top 10 more than 15 times since its inception has been impressive.
Summerlin ranked as a perennial No. 1 in sales in the 1990s, peaking in 2000 with more than 3,200 sales. It remained on the top 10 list from 2004 to 2007 before dipping in 2008 and not returning until 2015.
“To have a top-selling community like that in Las Vegas like you have in California, Texas and Florida says a lot of good things about the Vegas market,” Logan said of Summerlin, which is home to about 100,000 people. “Summerlin has evolved as a master-planned community. It has a lot of the same characteristics like a nice small town with shopping, services, and schools.”
A lot changed starting in 2017 when Summerlin had 21 subdivisions open. Builders have ramped up and today, and there are more than 30 subdivisions open and more coming in 2019. There were only 10 in 2011 at the bottom of the market, when Summerlin and builders hit the pause button until the economy recovered.
Over the last two years, builders have introduced smaller homes, attached product and lower prices to expand the market for people who could afford to live in Summerlin. Homes there range from the low to mid-$200,000s for attached product to more than $1 million. The ultra-exclusive Summit Club had its first residents move in last year. Lots alone cost multimillions.
“We added 10 new neighborhoods in 2018 and are adding more in 2019,” Orrock said.
He said to look for a greater variety of product over 2019 and 2020 with prices as low as the high $200,000s to mid-to-high $300,000s. There will be rental units as well.
Summerlin has nine builders, and they will be making announcements throughout the year, Orrock said. The focus of new product in 2019 will be north of Charleston Boulevard, west of the Las Vegas Beltway, he said.
“We will have more affordable product available,” Orrock said.
The Las Vegas Ballpark, a $150 million AAA baseball stadium, will open in April that stands out from other master plans across the country and serve as an attractive amenity, Orrock said. There are plans to build more office space because people want to work closer to where they live rather than travel, Orrock said.
In August, Summerlin opened its second developer-owned office building across from City National Arena and all but 2,000 square feet is leased, he said.
It’s not just good news for Summerlin. Inspirada in west Henderson, Cadence in east Henderson and Skye Canyon in the northwest valley are all ranked in the top 21 in the 2018 rankings.
That’s a reflection of the Las Vegas economy even though people across the country are concerned about a housing slowdown over the stock market decline, interest rates and economic and political uncertainty, Orrock said. There’s a lot of construction in Southern Nevada and excitement about the Raiders coming in 2020, he said.
Brian Kunec, division president of KB Home who spoke on behalf of the builder group — which includes KB Home, Pardee, Beazer and Toll Brothers and Century Communities — said he’s not surprised the high ranking continues. The master plan that opened in 2006 has come together with a new Clark County elementary school and a private school opening in 2018. The parks are maturing and about 3,000 homes have closed he said. There are 4,500 homes left to build out at the community, and about 500 under construction, he said.
“It’s turned into a wonderful community,” Kunec said. “It’s one of the best spots to buy. You have Summerlin, which is a great master plan, but Inspirada is right up there with the location and everything it has to offer.”
The master plan offers homes from the low $200,000s to high $500,000s.
Kunec said he’s optimistic about 2019 with migration to Las Vegas, job creation and income gains.
“For Inspirada I am even more bullish because everything that is going on in west Henderson,” Kunec said. “There’s mixed-use projects and the new Costco. You have the Raiders headquarters breaking ground near Henderson Executive Airport, which is a stone’s throw from Inspirada. I see the future of west Henderson as a great area to be. I see explosive growth going on in the next few years.”
At Skye Canyon in northwest Las Vegas, Desiree Van Leer, marketing manager at the Olympia Cos., said the jump in the ranking has been dramatic since it opened in August 2015.
“It’s incredible in the short amount of time we’ve been selling homes,” Van Leer. “Our team and homebuilder partners are excited. Hopefully, in 2019 we rank even higher.”
It opened six new neighborhoods in 2018 and has 10 active. Skye Canyon will open five more in 2019. Skye Canyon has about 900 homes, and the builders are Woodside, Pardee, Pulte and Richmond American. Lennar, Century Communities and Beazer will offer homes in 2019 in phase two.
“We’re thrilled about the result thanks to our opening of phase two, and we have a lot more variety for homebuyers,” Van Leer said. “The maturity of the community and our events and lifestyle we provide contributed to the success of our sales numbers last year.”
Skye Canyon has homes that range from 1,400 square feet to almost 4,000 square feet, Van Leer said. Prices start in the high $200,000s and go to the mid-$500,000s.
Cheryl Gowan, vice president of marketing for Cadence, said they’re pleased with the move up the rankings and surpassing 1,000 closings and now has 1,250 homes. The maximum number of the homes that can be developed is 13,250.
Besides Lennar, which acquired CalAtlantic, Woodside, and Richmond American, Cadence added Toll Brothers, which in September started selling a single-story plan for just over $400,000.
“We’re expanding the builders and different products,” Gowan said. “We have Storybook that we added last year (purchasing 8 acres) and will start building this year. And we have two more in the works. We’re looking forward to 2019. We have some builders who purchased some additional parcels of land, including Richmond American that has an urban loft. It’s kind of a town home-type product that starts at $234,000. We have some good entry-level product as well. And Lennar is building an active-adult community.”
Gowan said the addition of more builders will be announced by the end of the first quarter or beginning of the second quarter. There’s already a good mix of entry-level, move-up buyers and retirees, she said.
“Lennar has designed and started selling a new product which is a small alley-loaded single-family detached on small lot, to (offer a more) affordable (option) in their active-adult community,” said Lee Farris, vice president of land development with The LandWell Co., Cadence’s master developer. They started selling them in the fall, he said.
“Those are for a lot retirees for lock-and-go,” Gowan said. “This is maybe a second home so they want something smaller they lock up and close to neighbors.”
There is a plan to build out another 10 acres at the 50-acre Central Park with amenities for adults in a serene environment. That should open in the fall, Farris said. That will leave less than 10 acres to develop in 2020.
A third school named Legacy opened in Cadence in 2018 and that brought parents and teachers to buy in the master plan, Farris said. Homeowners association dues are $40 a month, and there’s no local improvement district fee, which holds down the cost of monthly payments, he said.
“We’ve tried to have a local wide spectrum of home offerings,” Farris said. “We tried to make sure we pay attention to new segments, such as entry-level and attached as well continue with some of the bigger single-story so we have a wide variety and capture a lot of different buyers.”