The president of Resorts World Las Vegas, the $4.3 billion casino that will open in the summer of 2021, paid $1.33 million in June for a Pulte home in Reverence Heights in Summerlin.
The purchase by Scott Sibella and his wife, Kimberly, shows the continued strength of the new-home luxury market during the COVID-19 pandemic and popularity of Summerlin for luxury production homes.
Several other gaming industry executives, including former MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren, call Summerlin home. Murren has placed his home on the market but plans to stay in Las Vegas.
Summerlin, as it usually does, dominated the new-home luxury production market in the first half of 2020 with 84 of the 115 closings. It was followed by MacDonald Highlands with nine, Southern Highlands with six, Ascaya with two and Lake Las Vegas with one. Other sales were scattered throughout the Las Vegas Valley outside of most master plans.
The Sibellas’ single-story, frame-stucco home on one-third of an acre measures 3,451 square feet with a casita measuring 252 square feet and a 942-square-foot garage. It has three bedrooms and 2½ baths. Clark County records show there isn’t a pool at the Reverence Heights home.
The Sibellas also own a 6,000-plus-square-foot single-story home on more than two acres in the northwest valley that they bought for $1.4 million in 2009. It has a 900-square-foot casita and a 1,700-square-foot garage, according to Clark County records.
The top new-home closings for 2020 didn’t change during the second quarter. The 2019 and 2020 New American Homes in the Henderson hillside community Ascaya that were built by Sun West Custom Homes and displayed to an audience from around the world during the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas in 2019 and 2020 each sold for $5.5 million in the first quarter. They were detailed in Real Estate Millions in April.
No. 3 on the list was the purchase by guitarist and songwriter Kerry King of thrash metal band Slayer and his wife, Ayesha, who paid $3.81 million for a home south of the 215 Beltway between Interstate 15 and Decatur Boulevard in a section of the valley known as Enterprise. It was built by Jewel Homes, according to county records. The home measures 5,116 square feet with five bedrooms and six baths, according to the Multiple Listing Service.
No. 4 on the list was $3.75 million paid by Howard and Charlotte Perley of Newport Beach, California. Their single-story home at 615 Scenic Rim Drive in MacDonald Highlands was part of the architect Richard Luke Collection. It measures 6,100 square feet with four bedrooms.
No. 5 was in Vu Estates in MacDonald Highlands built by Christopher Homes. Kristen K. Stevens of Naples, Florida, paid $2.77 million for the home at 519 Serenity Point Drive, according to Clark County property records.
No. 6 was a home bought by former Masters and British Open championship golfer Mark O’Meara who paid $2.52 million for a Christopher Homes one-story home in the golf course community within Southern Highlands. It has four bedrooms, 4½ baths with an expansive great room, office and four-car garage, according to the MLS.
Luxury market strong
There were 115 closings of new homes priced at $1 million and above during the first half of 2020. That is only seven fewer than through the midway point in 2019 when the economy was booming.
“It shows people in that strata are not quite as affected as those in the lower price ranges even though it is down a little bit,” said Andrew Smith, president of Home Builders Research. “Those types of people who want to buy a home are going to move forward no matter what, especially with interest rates as low as they are. When you are talking about a loan that size, it makes a huge difference even more so than an inexpensive home.”
Smith said builders are happy with where the market is today after the shutdown of the economy and casino industry in April and May. But he added he doesn’t see a lot of luxury new home projects opening up for the rest of 2020.
“We had an influx of higher-priced projects there for a while, and I think they’re switching away from that,” Smith said. “Builders are selling out, and where are they going to build these big houses? For a lot of them, the land in the master plans zoned for those types of neighborhoods are not available right now. Most of the land out there in master plans is geared towards higher density. If they are going to be building those projects, it’s going to be an infill piece in rural preservation areas. There’s no big chunks to be had. There’s probably not going to be a neighborhood with 75 to 100 lots come online for the rest of the year.”
Smith said when development spreads farther west in Summerlin, however, there will be larger homes built closer to the mountains.
“That’s at least a year away,” Smith said.
Toll Brothers led the way with 36 of the 115 closings among the largest builders, including 13 in May and June. They were followed by Richmond American Homes with 29, Pulte with 14, Pardee and Christopher Homes with nine, Lennar with three and William Lyon and D.R. Horton with one each.
Luke O’Loughlin, director of sales for Richmond American, said they’re seeing the strength in the luxury market with net sales in their high-end R Series through the end of July only about 40 behind 12 months of 2019, when they sold 108. Their total includes homes just below $1 million, too.
“We’re on track where we were last year,” O’Loughlin said. “Everything came to a complete stop for a month and a half, and the fact that we were able to rebound has been exciting for us. Last month, we had nine sales at Scotts Pine, which is above average, and this month we are on track with seven sales with a few days left.”
O’Loughlin said what is driving buyers to its leading luxury community of Scotts Pine in Stonebridge in Summerlin in particular is the lack of high-end, single-story existing luxury homes of $1 million and above. Its homes there, of which there are about 20 sites left of 103, start at 3,300 square feet and are priced at $850,000 and above.
Their other luxury communities include Onyx Point in The Cliffs in Summerlin, which has two homes left. It has Ravenwood in the northwest valley with 19 homesites left of 59. The newest community, which opened in June, Galway Grove in the southwest valley, has half-acre lots. It has sold five of 40 homes planned.
“When I looked, there were only 84 existing (luxury) properties on the MLS,” O’Loughlin said. “There were 32 of those built in the last five years. Buyers are after that new modern look, feel and floor plan and newer finishes with waterfall islands and floating cabinets. There is not a lot of resale inventory with that out there.”
O’Loughlin said they have no plans to open any other luxury communities in 2020 but are eyeing other opportunities down the road.
“This product sells pretty well, and we’re also going to try and keep a certain percentage of our business with this R Series,” O’Loughlin said. “We don’t have any more product opening this year, so people who like our floor plans need to jump into one of these active communities before we sell out. I think we will continue on this trend and finish where we were last year in sales.”
One reason for that according to James Kingery, director of marketing for Richmond American, is a lot of buyers don’t want to wait for a home to be remodeled to their liking but instead purchase a new home that can be built in five to six months at the most.
Colleen McCullough, Toll Brothers’ division vice president of sales and customer experience, said sales slowed in April after the state lockdown, but by May, deposits surpassed the same period in 2019.
“You’re looking at a very fast recovery from the pandemic striking, and now every week we’re hitting numbers that are unbelievably respectable since this is July and now August,” McCullough said. “It’s been an phenomenal recovery.”
McCullough said the COVID-19 crisis has people spending more time in their homes working and finding out what dissatisfies them and what they wanted to change. Many want two offices.
“It really ignited people, and they wanted to change their lives as things started opening up again,” McCullough said.
Mesa Ridge in Summerlin is Toll Brothers’ top-selling luxury community. It has homes that range from $1.2 million to $2.5 million to $3 million, and Smith said it’s averaging about seven sales a month since it opened in January 2019.
“We’re selling like crazy in Mesa Ridge,” McCullough said. “The architecture is extraordinary and brings that whole California vibe.”
Mesa Ridge with 300 acres has sold 117 homes out of 191. Toll is about to open models for larger one-story and two-story homes in September, McCullough said.
“When Toll opens models, you will see a major influx in sales,” McCullough said. “We’ve already done some greater numbers before getting there.”
Mesa Ridge was designed as a country club without a golf course and has a beautiful street scene, McCullough said.
“It’s a guard-gated community with exclusivity that we haven’t seen in the valley in a long time,” she added. “We were able to fulfill those large move-up families looking for the new modern contemporary design. We have an amenity (in the clubhouse with a pool and outdoor pit area) that gives the feel of a country club without the golf membership. You have the fitness, outdoor activities and kitchen facilities and the ability to throw parties.”
The clubhouse is outfitted with lockers so people can have groceries delivered and refrigerated while people are at work. Homes are being outfitted to securely accept packages when people aren’t there, she said.
“It’s like having your own private post box at your house, and you never have to worry about anybody taking your package,” McCullough said.
Toll Brothers has other luxury communities, including Shadow Point, Ironwood and Granite Heights. It recently opened a community in the northwest valley on half-acre lots called Lusitano Ranch with prices that reach $1 million.
McCullough said her sales team has talked with prospective buyers who are renovating their existing homes so they can sell them and buy new ones.
“That influence right there may prolong the selling season into the fall,” McCullough said. “We are all marveling at what is going on,” she said. “The indicators and trends showing that people recognize the value of buying right now, and that is going to take us through the end of the year. Whether it continues at the same rate, we don’t know.”
Randy Char, the broker and owner of Char Luxury Real Estate, said he expects the strong sales to continue. He has represented seven buyers in 2020 who bought in Mesa Ridge who see the value of production homes at $1 million with options and custom-home looks.
Char is one of those people who are under contract to buy in the community: a 5,000-square-foot, two-story home with 25-foot ceilings and five bedrooms for more than $1.5 million once the pool is installed. He lives in Red Rock Country Club but said he wanted a larger home.
Char said the community is attracting business owners and executives and doctors. They aren’t interested in existing homes because they want a more modern look.