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Luxury master-planned communities continue to thrive

The Las Vegas luxury real estate market had its strongest year since the Great Recession and shows no signs of slowing in 2019.

The numbers popped off the chart in the new home construction market of $1 million and above. The 229 closings in 2018 were 77.5 percent higher than the 129 closings in 2017. That’s quite a comeback since there were only three new home closings in 2013, according to research firm SalesTraq.

The luxury resale market of homes $1 million and above also was strong in 2018 but didn’t have the same gains it did in 2017. There were 407 home closings of $1 million and above in 2018 — a gain of 8.2 percent over the 376 in 2017 when there was a 39 percent jump from the 270 closings in 2016, SalesTraq reported.

Those sales don’t include custom lot sales that are a strong indicator of the luxury market for those who want to design and build their own high-end homes.

Those strong luxury new-home and existing-home closings were spurred on by the strong economy and stock market and wealthy Californians looking for tax relief by relocating to Nevada, analysts and brokers said.

“Thirty six percent of residents that migrated to Southern Nevada last year came from California, and they brought increased wealth and assets when they cashed out of a higher-priced housing market,” said Brian Gordon, principal of Applied Analysis, of which SalesTraq is a subsidiary. “And there’s a more robust economy and increased consumer confidence in the real estate market. Assuming the economic climate remains sound through the bulk of 2019, the expectation is that the higher-end homes will continue to sell at greater rates than they did the prior year.”

Kristen Routh-Silberman, a Realtor with Synergy Sotheby’s International Realty, said that during the first quarter of 2019 she’s done 50 percent of what she did in 2018 for sales.

“I did $66 million in resales, lots and new homes, and I’ve already done more than $30 million,” Routh-Silberman said in mid-March.

The big jump for new homes in 2018 is seen as a desire for more modern designs compared to the Mediterranean and Tuscan homes that have long dominated the Southern Nevada landscape. Existing home sales had bigger gains in 2017 because there wasn’t as much new product on the market, Routh-Silberman said. People would rather buy new than an existing home that was constructed 15 years ago, which they may have to put money into in an extensive remodel, she said.

Here’s a look at some of the communities that offer luxury living:

• The Summit Club

The newest luxury community that will be the ultimate in a resort and concierge setting is making strides since the first lot sales began in 2016. The Summit Club, a joint venture between Discovery Land Co. and the Howard Hughes Corp., saw its first residents move in last summer, and more homes remain under construction and will be completed this year.

In 2018, there were 38 custom lot sales in the ultra-luxury community with a championship golf course.

The average price of the lots sold in 2018 was $3.4 million with the highest at $6.5 million and second highest at $6.3 million, according to Home Builders Research.

In 2017, there were 21 custom lot sales with an average price of $3.35 million and a high of $5.6 million. With the 52 sales in the first year that lots were available in 2016, that’s 111 lot sales out of 146 through the end of 2018. The highest price paid was in the first year with $12.6 million for a combined lot of 4.5 acres, Home Builders Research reported. The 555-acre development includes multimillion-dollar bungalows that will be completed this year and luxury clubhouse condominiums. The $100 million-plus clubhouse will be completed within two years.

The community has four residents, 35 homes under construction and 30 in design review. The community is expected to have an additional 20 homes this year, according to Steve Jarvis, Summit’s president.

• Lake Las Vegas

There were 10 custom lot sales in 2018 with an average price of $471,450 in the lake development in Henderson, according to Home Builders Research. The high was $1.95 million. There were 33 custom lot sales in 2017 with the average price of $291,736 and high of $800,000.

Lake Las Vegas has made one of the bigger pushes into the luxury segment in 2018 and will continue that in 2019.

Luxury builder Blue Heron did a groundbreaking in March on its community Vantage, a community of 37 home sites on the bluffs overlooking estate lots.

The one-story and two-story homes measuring between 2,800 square feet and 4,700 square feet are expected to average more than $1 million.

Below that hillside development is the Estates at Reflection Bay with 50 lots up for sale. There are 1-acre custom lots ranging from $1.2 million to $1.9 million, half-acre custom lots ranging from the mid-$300,000s to $650,000. At the center of the development is the show home, an 8,700-square-foot custom home with modern design and 270 feet of waterfront that’s on the market for $7.5 million.

Home tours started in March.

“This is the first time we have done true contemporary transition homes at Lake Las Vegas, and we’ve had so many inquiries wanting this type of modern architecture” said Pat Parker, president of Raintree Investment Corp., the developer of Lake Las Vegas. “It’s about clean lines and open great rooms and, frankly, less structure to the house in terms of floor plan. I would say we’re very happy with what’s happening on the luxury side. I think by this time next year, you will see 10 or so homes under construction (at the Estates of Reflection Bay).”

• MacDonald Highlands

Like in Lake Las Vegas, there’s been a lot of activity in MacDonald Highlands.

There were 31 custom lot sales in 2018, which does not include larger development projects in the Henderson hillside development. The high was $1.5 million and the average was $956,778 according to Home Builders Research. That’s up from 23 custom lot sales in 2017 when the average price was $734,167 per lot with a high of $1.82 million, Home Builders Research reported.

The Vu luxury town homes whose sales by Christopher Homes were launched in 2017 has sold 71 of 110 of the units that start in the low $900,000s and can reach $1.5 million.

Sales have begun for Vu Estates, 17 single-story homesites, ranging from 3,600 to 4,000 square feet priced from $1.29 million to $1.45 million. With lot premiums, the price can surpass $2 million.

Christopher Homes is taking reservations for VuPointe, a collection of single-story homes measuring 2,800 square feet to 4,000 square feet. The price is expected to start at $945,000 and go up to $1.5 million.

“The first quarter has picked back up and we’re seeing a lot of activity in the market,” said Erika Geiser, vice president of sales and marketing for Christopher Homes. “We’re still seeing an influx of people coming from out of state.”

Blue Heron launched a new luxury community named Equinox last year that’s under construction in MacDonald Highlands. Lots range in size from a half-acre to 2.5 acres for homes that could range in size from 6,000 square feet to 14,000 square feet and cost from $3 million to $20 million.

In December, MacDonald Highlands unveiled the Richard Luke Collection, named after the local architect. The collection of 20 homes are 5,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet and are priced between $3 million to $5 million. It’s nearing a sellout.

Routh-Silberman, the master listing agent for MacDonald Highlands, said a custom-lot or new-home closing is happening every week in MacDonald Highlands, and much of it by California buyers.

• Ascaya

The Henderson hillside community had nine custom lot sales in 2018 with an average price of $965,506 and a high of $1.15 million, according to Home Builders Research. There were 13 sales in 2017 with an average price of $976,269 per lot and a high of $1.4 million.

Darin Marques, a luxury Realtor with the Ivan Sher Group and sales manager for Ascaya, said there are seven residents living in the development, 12 homes are under construction and 12 are completed. There are another six in design review. A new clubhouse concierge has been put in place to serve the residents to bring a luxury hotel experience. Some 140 of more than 300 lots have been made available.

He said the community is offering different options to make the building process faster.

“We have started architects designing several shovel-ready homes based on feedback from potential buyers,” Marques said. “The clients can come in and select a half-dozen designs that’s a 100 percent custom we design. We take a deposit and go into contract and break ground in two weeks. It saves eight to 14 months in development time. We are fast tracking for people who want to be in Ascaya, and we think we will see a huge upswing in purchases.”

There has been more interest in Ascaya from Las Vegas residents because many of them have been able to sell their existing homes that can sometime take a year to complete, Marques said. The new home designed will fall between $3.8 million and $4.5 million.

• The Ridges

There were seven custom lot sales, which does not include William Lyon Homes’ Silver Ridge. The average price was $1.32 million with the high at $2.25 million. There were 23 custom lot sales in 2017 with the average price of $867,457 and a high of $2.18 million, according to Home Builders Research.

In January, the Howard Hughes Corp., the developer of Summerlin, opened Talon Ridge. It’s the ninth and last custom-home neighborhood in the 793-acre guard-gated residential village, which features the Jack Nicklaus designed Bear’s Best golf course and is home to business and civic leaders and celebrities.

Talon Ridge, along the southeast edge of the village, has 17 custom homesites from one-quarter to one-third of an acre. The prices start in the $400,000s.

Six custom neighborhoods in The Ridges are sold out, while two actively selling neighborhoods, Azure and Indigo, offer lots from one-quarter to more than one acre.

There are more than 300 custom homes and more than 20 are under construction or in design. Elle Gaensslen, the sales and marketing manager for Summerlin, said she expects 2019 to surpass 2018 with not only an influx of people from California but people from across the country who want to build a second home. They’re attracted to the shopping and amenities in Summerlin, she said.

“There’s so many exciting things going on in Summerlin,” Gaensslen said. “The fact that we have this tranquil community surrounded by nature and only five minutes away from Downtown Summerlin. It’s making The Ridges sing because no other community in town is like that.”

• Southern Highlands

The master-planned community in the south end of the valley had 11 custom lot sales in 2018 with an average price of $572,636 and a high of $1.25 million, according to Home Builders Research. That doesn’t include lots for the Blue Heron development The Bluffs unveiled in 2018. In 2017, there were 10 custom lot sales with an average price of $408,500 and high of $625,000.

Blue Heron’s The Bluffs is a 39-home semi-custom community it has done in partnership with Newport Beach-based Sabal Capital Partners. There are either one-story or two-story designs, and prices go from $1.5 million to $3.5 million for the community that’s approaching a sellout.

In addition, there are several spec custom luxury homes under construction in the master-planned community.

“That shows the market has turned around on the luxury side that builders are specing out new homes,” said Dana Limon, luxury home specialist for Southern Highlands Realty, the brokerage for Southern Highlands. “Usually it’s just build to suit. They know the demand is out there. There’s a lot of good things happening in the luxury market.”

Prices are appreciating in the luxury communities, especially Summerlin which has the most amenities from parks and trails to shopping and restaurants.

In Summerlin, the ZIP Code 89138 that includes The Vistas and The Paseos was ranked No. 1 in the valley in 2018 with a median price of $464,500, a 20.6 percent gain in appreciation.

No. 2 on the list is 89135 that includes The Ridges and Red Rock Country Club with a median price of $420,500, an 11 percent gain over 2017.

“As the market continues to see price escalations, the master plans are benefiting from the rising tide,” Gordon said. “Clearly those are areas consumers are seeing with the amenity packages they offer.”

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