By Mark Waite
Pahrump building activity was still very much in the doldrums in 2012, but there was a very slight improvement, 288 building permits were issued by the Pahrump Building and Safety Department, an increase of nine over 2011.
A local Realtor was encouraged by a 2.4 percent rise in home prices in 2012, due to lower inventory and optimistic after a bigger percentage of traditional home sales.
A comparative analysis by Charles Abbott and Associates, the firm that operates the Pahrump Building and Safety Department, shows 37 of the building permits in 2012 were for single-family homes, an increase over the 22 in 2011.
The valuation of new construction fell from $14.16 million in 2011 to $12.5 million in 2012, however. After $198,910 was paid out in building permit fees in 2011, only $132,789 was collected in 2012. Figures in 2011 were skewed by the construction of the new Pahrump jail.
When asked when the building industry might recover, Senior Building Inspector Brent Steed said, “not until the banks open up some money. It’s hard for people to get financing on anything.”
Then there’s still the depressed prices, he said.
“They can’t compete as long as some of these properties are going for less than half what it costs to build them. Until that’s cleaned up, there’s no way people will pay a price for new homes,” Steed said.
Edwards Homes plopped down $15,711 in building permit fees in May for its centerpiece project in 2012, the new Inspirations Senior Living Center at 1560 S. Java Ave., which is scheduled to finish in March.
William Lyon Homes, developer of Mountain Falls, took out six permits for single family homes on Lorenzo Way in June. Mountain Falls General Manager Greg Moynahan took out six more building permits for homes in July, all but one of them on Lorenzo Way; he pulled 14 more building permits for houses on Monte Penne Way in August and September.
Steed said William Lyon Homes is still selling houses at Mountain Falls, the new construction he described as “low end homes, but they’re nice homes.”
Terry Connelly, vice-president of operations for William Lyon Homes, said, “we believe the market is turning around and has turned around. We believe there’s opportunity for serving a market segment in the Pahrump and Mountain Falls community. We are evaluating to consider expanding that, depending how the next couple of quarters goes.”
Connelly said a larger number of qualified buyers are scoping out homes in the golf course community.
“There will always be demand for a new home over a resale. It just depends on buyers’ desires and profiles. We are seeing a larger amount of qualified buyers coming to Mountain Falls because of the amenities, the location and the price point,” he said.
There’s also been improvements at the Wine Ridge RV Resort, Steed said, the new name for the RV park under new ownership next to the Pahrump Valley Winery. He said the new owners poured footings for a bath house recently.
Otherwise, Pahrump builders could count on one hand the number of permits they pulled for single family residences in 2012.
Classic Homes pulled a permit in April to build a home on East Splendido Street and another on Delizia Street in August. Rick Minoski did commercial tenant improvements on Frontage Road and South Homestead Road; Shadow Mountain Construction was busy with tenant improvements on East Wilson Road. Rick Walker took out commercial building permits on the winery RV park in November and December.
Norma Jean Opatik, a member of the Las Vegas Board of Realtors, agreed with the building inspector on the problems getting financing from banks, which she said makes it difficult for the great majority of home buyers today, even those putting 20 percent down.
But Opatik was optimistic after home prices in Pahrump rose a slight 2.42 percent in 2012.
“The inventory is low. When the inventory is low, prices go up. We have been told that there’s going to be another tsunami of foreclosures, but I’m not sure. We all know they stopped the foreclosure process over the last 16 to 18 months because of the election,” Opatik said.
The mean average list price for stick-built homes available this month is $182,259, she said, the mean price is $140,000. For manufactured homes, the list price averages $83,571, the median price is $65,000.
Opatik said when the housing market was really sour a few years back, she could call up 900 homes on the market on her computer, now there’s only 244. Of that total, over half, 138, are traditional home sales, which she says is a positive sign for the market. Sixty are short sales and 26 are bank-owned homes. Opatik said MLS statistics show of that 244, 54 are pending sales; 126 are contingent sales awaiting an offer, lenders’ approval, an inspection, a buyer walk-through or other final steps.
Statistics from homes sold through the Multiple Listing Service MLS show there were 862 home sales in 2012 in Pahrump, Opatik said, up from 804 in 2011, including stick-built and manufactured homes, condominiums and townhouses. The median sale price rose from $85,217 to $87,280, Opatik said.
When manufactured homes are excluded, the median sale price of a stick-built home in Pahrump — the middle figure where half the homes sold were costlier and half were less costly — increased from $113,000 in 2011 to $115,000 in 2012. The average sale price of stick-built homes in Pahrump — the sales price of all the homes divided by the number of homes sold — increased from $115,495 in 2011 to $116,409 in 2012.
The median price of a manufactured home in Pahrump increased from $40,000 in 2011 to $43,000 in 2012, the average price decreased from $44,906 to $44,412, according to the MLS figures.
The number of short sales in Pahrump almost doubled, from 67 in 2011 to 133 in 2012 but the number of sales by banks dropped from 527 to 435, that include all categories, stick-built and manufactured housing, condominiums and townhouses. The number of traditional housing sales in Pahrump rose from 210 in 2011 to 294 to 2012 according to MLS statistics.
The lower inventory means the market is better for selling a home now than it was a couple years ago, Opatik said. But many buyers have to have cash.
“It was an appreciation, it was no longer a depreciation. To me that’s a positive sign,” Opatik said of the prices. She added, “We’ve had more traditional sales than we’ve had on the market in a long time.”