Sponsor of the Month: Alpine Mortgage Planning, Vol 2

logo-alpine-mortgage-planningAlpine Mortgage Planning, a division of Pinnacle Capital Mortgage Corp., has been the proud host and sponsor for TrainNTour from its inception together with SNHBA and the GLVAR. We are happy to assist in bringing the Builders and Realtors in the Las Vegas community together. We are also happy to assist those clients and Realtors that have chosen to use Alpine Mortgage Planning as their chosen mortgage banker.

Dan Means, MLO-252113, is the branch manager of the Southern Nevada Alpine Mortgage Planning offices – our Las Vegas office is located off Sunset & Durango and our Henderson office is located off Eastern and Coronado Center. Dan has been in the mortgage business since 1996, managing three other mortgage company/branches prior to opening Alpine Mortgage Planning in June 2013. With over 50 employees, not only do we have over 25 Mortgage Advisors in our 2 branches combined, but we also have licensed Production Assistants for the Mortgage Advisors, an in-house Marketing Coordinator, in-branch Processing, 9 in-branch Underwriters and Doc Drawing.

Our success has been awarded in 2014 not once, but twice! We first received the Groundbreakers award from the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce in October, then Association Member of the Year 2014 Award from the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association in November. We are proud to be members of both these great organizations and look forward to working with them again in 2015.

For more information on Alpine Mortgage Planning, please visit our website at www.alpinemc.com/lasvegas or call our office at 702.534.6100. Equal Housing Lender, NMLS-81395.

Builder Of The Month: Touchstone Living, Vol 2

logo-touchstone-livingBy HOLLY IVY DEVORE LVRJ.COM
Real Estate Millions

Although the name Touchstone Living might not ring a bell to some longtime Las Vegans, the people behind the company are not new kids on the block.

They were part of Southern Nevada’s building boom, and they were here selling houses during the market’s fall. Through Touchstone Living, created in 2012, they have come together during the realty market’s rebound to do what they have done for years — build homes.

“We felt that the market was beginning to come back and that it was time to get busy and to start feeling better about things again,” said Tom McCormick, Touchstone Living’s president and former president of Astoria Homes, which ceased construction.

“As bad as things had been, we still believed in the long-term positive outlook of Las Vegas. It was a little bit like riding out a storm in that no matter how dark it gets, you know that it will get better. We wanted to get out there and make up for lost time, and we are excited about the future.”

Touchstone exists, he said, because it does things differently from rivals, working to bring housing types and neighborhoods that are nowhere else.

“There are many great public builders who are great at producing conventional homes. Ours is about the home design, ours is about the neighborhood design,” he said. “The reason why ‘living’ is in our name, not ‘homes,’ is that we believe what we bring to our market is a different lifestyle and you will feel it as soon as you come to our neighborhoods.”

Touchstone Living had a busy 2014, assembling an experienced team, building its first home and welcoming its first buyer.

None of this could have happened without land. Touchstone Living had the land as it had purchased six home sites at MacDonald Highlands in Henderson and about 60 home sites in the northwestern valley. It also had purchased 55 acres at West Lone Mountain Road’s far western end, next to Bureau of Land Management-owned land.

Builder’s team members with connections to McCormick’s previous company are designer Tracey Lee; Traci Sexton who oversees sales and marketing and previously worked for Wells Fargo and Astoria; and Geoff Gorman, who oversees operations and previously worked with Harmony Homes and Astoria.

Touchstone Living’s high-end design style reflects in the company’s first residences, which measure up to more than 6,400 square feet and are behind the MacDonald Highlands community’s guard gates. Only two of its six executive-level homes remain for sale; prices start from just less than $1 million. The homes are viewable by appointment by calling 702-289-9100.

Touchstone Living has more planned in 2015 with new models, a new sales office and land preparation for a new northwestern valley community.

The builder is putting finishing touches on model homes that are expected to open by Feb. 28 at The Residences.

“The Residences offer unbelievable homes in that they are from 3,800 to over 6,000 square feet and they are all on half-acre lots,” McCormick said. “What is really unique and great about them is that they are broken up into smaller gated neighborhoods of four to nine homes each, and each of these mini neighborhoods are gated.”

Presales are underway; prices start from the $500,000s. The Residences presales trailer, near the intersection of West Lone Mountain and North Grand Canyon Drive, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday; it is closed Thursday and Friday.

The builder expects to take on its biggest project to date by year’s end, Peaceful Ridge, on the 55 acres on Lone Mountain Road. McCormick expects to begin land development and start model home construction and presales.

Peaceful Ridge will have three different neighborhoods with 1,700 to more than 4,000 square feet. It will all be designed as move-up and executive-level homes, he said.

“It will offer a setting unlike anything else in Las Vegas because of the views which will literally look down on Lone Mountain. …It is stunning. It is a very nice large piece of property and that is a big part of our future.”

For additional information, visit www.touchstoneliving.com.

Legal Ease – Avoiding Credit Crisis, Vol 2

logo-black-lobelloBy Black & lobello

Nevada is facing a debt crisis. According to the Urban Institute, 47% of Nevadans have reported debt in collections. Equally alarming, Nevada has the highest average total debt in collections per person in the nation at $7,198. This is compared to national average of 35.1% and $5,178, respectively.

As a native Nevadan, I know we are better than these figures reflect. As an attorney practicing in consumer litigation, I also know much of this negative reporting stems from fraudulent or incorrect information. The good news is this trend does not have to continue. There are simple, concrete steps each Nevadan can implement to drive these figures down and help our State emerge from this crisis. So, where do you start?

First, recognize the problem. Knowledge of improper reporting is the crucial starting-point toward improving your credit and permanently removing this information from your file. Many consumers only recognize an error — typically a fraudulent account, or an account in collections — when a lender pulls their credit report during a loan or credit application process. At that point, it’s probably too late. Many companies and lenders refuse to issue credit or loans to consumers with collections on their file. And those lenders who issue credit to consumers in collections will charge astronomical interest rates for the privilege. This is why it is so important to pull your credit report at least once per year to confirm the information is accurate and up-to-date. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union).

The next step is identifying any incorrect information and issuing a dispute with the major credit-reporting agencies. Credit disputes are written statements identifying incorrect or fraudulent reporting and demanding removal. Disputes are typically sent via certified mail to confirm delivery. Upon receiving a dispute, the credit-reporting agencies must contact the “furnisher” (typically a bank, loan servicer, or collection agency) to verify the disputed information.

If the furnisher fails to verify the debt, the agency must remove the disputed information. The agency must complete its investigation and remove the erroneous information within thirty days, and must indicate on your report that you dispute the accuracy of the reported information if you send a notice requesting this notation.

For the majority of consumers, a written dispute should solve the problem. However, if the incorrect information remains on your file, the only alternative is litigation under the FCRA. Litigation can be difficult and time-consuming for the average consumer. Thankfully, the FCRA shifts the responsibility for the consumer’s attorney’s fees and costs to the defendant or defendants if the consumer prevails. The mandatory fees provision also places a premium on resolving these matters quickly and efficiently. Typically, FCRA cases are resolved at no cost to the consumer and result in the permanent removal or correction of the information, along with an award of statutory or actual damages.

Cleaning up your credit report may be one of the most important decisions you can make for your financial future. Implementing the steps outlined in this article, consumers have the power to correct potentially devastating errors and improve their credit score.

Word On The Street, Vol2

logo-glvarGLVAR reports local home prices up 8 percent for year

LAS VEGAS – Statistics released Tuesday by the Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS® (GLVAR) show Southern Nevada home prices are up more than 8 percent in the past year despite a seasonal slowdown and fewer homes changing hands.

GLVAR reported the median price of homes sold through its Multiple Listing Service during January was an even $200,000. That was down 2.0 percent from $204,000 in December, but still up 8.1 percent from $185,000 one year ago. Meanwhile, the median price of all local condominiums and townhomes, including high-rise condos, sold in January was $105,000. That was unchanged from December, but up 10.5 percent from one year ago.

“January is typically a time when we see local home prices and sales slow down, so this month’s statistics are no surprise,” said 2015 GLVAR President Keith Lynam, a longtime local REALTOR®. “What’s more relevant to us is how we’re doing compared to the same time a year ago. Compared to last year, home prices are still rising, just at a more gradual pace than they did in the past few years.”

GLVAR’s median single-family home price increased by about 10 percent during 2014. That rate of appreciation is less than half of what it was when prices increased by about 24 percent per year during both 2012 and 2013. Prices have bounced back steadily since bottoming out at $118,000 in January 2012, but are still well below their June 2006 peak of $315,000, Lynam added.

For all of 2014, GLVAR reported that 36,550 total properties were sold through its MLS. That was the lowest number of sales in at least six years, down from 47,685 sales in 2009; 44,045 in 2010; 48,798 in 2011; 45,698 in 2012; and 41,477 in 2013.

According to GLVAR, the total number of existing local homes, condominiums and townhomes sold in January 2015 was 2,239, down from 2,734 in December 2014 and down from 2,565 one year ago. At the current sales pace, Lynam said Southern Nevada continues to have roughly a four-month supply of available homes. REALTORS® consider a six-month supply to be a balanced market.

GLVAR has been tracking a two-year trend of fewer distressed sales and more traditional home sales, where lenders are not controlling the transaction. In January, 9.7 percent of all local sales were short sales – which occur when lenders allow borrowers to sell a home for less than what they owe on the mortgage. That’s down from 10 percent in December and 17 percent a year ago. Another 9.4 percent of January sales were bank-owned, up from 8 percent in December, but down from 11 percent last year.

Lynam said short sales could increase in 2015 if Congress votes to again extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007. In December, Congress voted to retroactively extend the tax break it had allowed to expire at the end of 2013 to help distressed homeowners who sold properties in 2014.

Unless Congress extends this act through 2015, any amount of money a bank writes off in agreeing to sell a home as part of a short sale this year may become taxable when sellers file their income taxes.

The total number of single-family homes listed for sale on GLVAR’s Multiple Listing Service in January was 12,666, up 2.3 percent from 12,377 in December, but down 6.4 percent from one year ago. GLVAR tracked a total of 3,429 condos, high-rise condos and townhomes listed for sale on its MLS in January, up 4.5 percent from 3,282 in December and up 15.1 percent from January 2014.

By the end of January, GLVAR reported 7,382 single-family homes listed without any sort of offer. That’s down 5.0 percent from 7,774 such homes listed in December, but up 12.9 percent from one year ago. For condos and townhomes, the 2,327 properties listed without offers in January represented a 0.8 percent increase from 2,309 such properties listed in December and a 35.9 percent increase from one year ago.


GLVAR said 36 percent of all local properties sold in January were purchased with cash. That’s up from 34.1 percent in December, but down from 46.8 one year ago and well short of the February 2013 peak of 59.5 percent, suggesting that fewer investors have been buying local homes.

The median price of bank-owned homes sold in January was $154,900, up from $155,500 in December. The median price of homes sold as part of a short sale in January was $167,000, the same as during December.

These GLVAR statistics include activity through the end of January 2015. GLVAR distributes such statistics each month based on data collected through its MLS, which does not necessarily account for newly constructed homes sold by local builders or for sale by owners. Other highlights include:

  • The monthly value of local real estate transactions tracked through the MLS during January decreased by 20.8 percent for homes to more than $434 million. For condos and townhomes, the total value of all January sales was more than $63 million, down 36.8 percent from a strong December. Compared to one year ago, total sales volumes in January were down 5.8 percent for homes and down 3.3 percent for condos.
  • In January, 59.8 percent of all existing local homes and 58.2 percent of all existing condos and townhomes sold within 60 days. That compares to December, when 62.8 percent of all existing local homes and 57.4 percent of all existing traditional and high-rise condos and townhomes sold within 60 days.

About the GLVAR

GLVAR was founded in 1947 and provides its more than 11,500 local members with education, training and political representation. The local representative of the National Association of REALTORS®, GLVAR is the largest professional organization in Southern Nevada. Each GLVAR member receives the highest level of professional training and must abide by a strict code of ethics. For more information, visit www.HomeLasVegas.com or www.LasVegasRealtor.com.

By The Numbers, Vol 2

HBRLogoBy Dennis Smith

Our December housing statistics in Las Vegas came in pretty much as we expected. The annual totals leave us disappointed, but with an “it could have been worse” feeling. In our opinion, the 2014 results are less than anyone projected.

There were 611 recorded new home sales in December, putting the 2014 sum at 6,007. This is a year to year decline of 1,296 sales, or 17.8 percent. Is it a case of 2013 being a “banner year”, or 2014 a “bummer year” for most builders? We don’t think many builders feel 2014 was as bad as the year to year comparison of closings suggests. The 2014 closings were an increase of 463 sales, or 8.4 percent) from the 2012 total (5,544). The next chart displays the monthly trends of new home closings since 2011. It shows how quickly the pace improved in 2012 and 2013. Sales dropped steadily in the second half of 2012, and have trended upward at a much slower rate in 2014.

Delays in processing final maps of new communities in the Clark County jurisdiction were a factor why the 2014 closing figures aren’t higher. Possibly a couple hundred more homes could have closed in 2014. The closings from many new projects had to be pushed back into 2015. This same issue will occur again with losings projected for 2015 that will be delayed into 2016.

We think there will be a small rise in this year’s final closing figure, probably 6,300 – 6,500. There is no doubt that the forward planning, revenue streams, production schedules, and many other facets of a home building business have been affected by these delays.

The median price of the recorded new home sales in December was $291,785. This was $6,816 less (2.2 percent) than the median price in December, 2013. However, in 2013 there were significant jumps in prices during the 2nd and 3rd quarters. During most of 2014 the new home median price was pretty consistent. If we compare all of the 2013 closing prices with the 2014 closings, there was a change in the median price by 11.6 percent.


The monthly new home median price did not increase during 2014 as much as we expected it might. We still think the monthly median price will soon begin noticeably rising. It has to, as many of the new offerings are being built on lots that have a higher land basis. The delays of new subdivisions make it very difficult to project where the median price might be at the end of 2015. Presently, we expect it to be about another $20,000 – $25,000 higher. This is something to watch closely as we get deeper into the year.

The December new home permit total was 497. It brought the 2014 sum to 6,623, which is a year to year decrease of 343 permits or 4.9 percent. (Note – this does not include Mesquite). The number of permits during 2014 in the metropolitan area was a disappointment, because if not for the delays at Clark County in processing final maps, the total would have been a lot closer to the 7,000 permits we projected at the beginning of 2014. According to area home builders it now takes about 12 months to process final maps in the Clark County jurisdiction. That is about twice as long as it takes them in North Las Vegas, Henderson, and the City of Las Vegas. We are hoping that in 2015, Clark County finds a way to get the processing time back down to about 6 months as in the other entities.

Based on what the permit tally was in 2014, at this point we think the total in 2015 will be 7,000 – 7,250. We can’t count on much improvement in the processing time of new subdivisions in Clark County, although pressure from the industry through the “political network” may bring it down a few months. The demand is good, but still up and down. The good thing is it looks like even IF the FED starts raising rates, it won’t be by much.

In our opinion, the new permits tell the “story” of who is the “builder of the year” for 2014 in Las Vegas. By pulling 1,153 permits, which resulted in an incredible market share of 17.5 percent, Lennar leaped into the number one position. It is the first time they have been at the top of this list in Las Vegas. Division President Jeremy Parness and the team he has assembled at Lennar have done an incredible job. The Las Vegas new home market still has not recovered from the tremendous fall it took during the past recession. It has struggled to regain some of the past “luster” that had it positioned as one of the top new housing markets in the United States. Lennar expanded their presence from primarily being in the lower, affordable tier of homes to also include the upper luxury end of the market. They made some bold land purchases that turned out to be very successful. They are also well positioned for the next couple of years with enough lots to continue to be at or near the top of the Las Vegas builder list. Our kudos go out to Jeremy and his team at Lennar, for an exceptional year.

We sorted through 3,273 resale closings in December. (This is different than the MLS figures, because they only include the sales that go through the local MLS). It was a nice month to month jump in closings, and brought the 2014 total to 39,053. It was a year to year decrease of 3,883, or 9 percent.

The median price of the resale closings in December was $177,400. This is a 6 percent increase from the median price in December, 2013. Year to year, the median price of the resale closings rose by 9.3 percent. Not bad, and I think most will take it after the debacle we all went through for the last 5 years.

To summarize the current resale segment, we would begin by suggesting most parts of the metropolitan area have clearly morphed into a “seller’s market” during the last half of 2014. We talked to one experienced realtor active in the Henderson area who said after recently viewing some homes she has had listing agents call her (now that is a change!) to see what the sellers can do to help sell the home. There are actually price reductions taking place on some listings.

We believe the number of resale closings in 2015 will be very similar to the 2014 sum. So, the 39,000 level feels pretty comfortable. It appears that sellers have had to become more realistic about their prices, or they will sit on their listing for some time.

Consumers are more discretionary in their demands, and there is definitely more competition from the new home segment. The new homes that are being built today are full of technological advances and gizmos that appeal to everyone. Energy efficiency is a common feature in all new home construction today. Solar energy is available in many new homes, and the costs are within reach for many. Home builders as a group are using new and innovative marketing techniques that will soon be promoting the new home segment. Instead of individual marketing they will be pooling their resources to support and educate the public on the advantages of buying new homes instead of existing ones. We believe that the new home market share will improve beginning in 2015, which will probably work to keep the annual resale activity near 39,000 per year.

As better as many things appear to be in the press and to economists, there are still “roadblocks” that will keep the Las Vegas new and resale numbers in check. There are more of these roadblocks in Las Vegas than in most other large metropolitan areas in the United States. There is still too much negative equity (or homes close to negative equity) that exist in our market before it can be considered a normal housing market. There are also still many thousands of homes being occupied by people who are not making mortgage payments. This is still one of the major problems with all parts of town. At this point, it will just take more time for the market to “flush” these issues so neighborhoods can have a “normal” recovery.


Check out all of our reports at homebuildersresearch.com. Or, call us at 702-645-4200 to discuss any custom data request. Cheers to a very successful 2015.

Dennis Smith, President

View From The Top, Vol 2

SNHBABy Nat Hodgson
Executive Director
Southern Nevada Home Builders Association

Recent research by two Las Vegas companies indicates there is only a modest price difference when comparing new home sales with resales.

Both companies eliminated the inclusion of sales’ prices of distressed resale homes, such as foreclosures and short sales, because they are homes sold under extenuating and exceptional circumstances that often reflect highly undervalued prices not typical of home sales that occur under standard conditions – much as new car sales are not comparable to used car sales.

An analysis and report by the Las Vegas office of First American Title Co. indicate that, on average, the price of a new home is only $4,400 more than a comparable resale home. The company looked at sales
of new homes built in 2013/2014 and resale homes built in 2009/2012.

First American Title examined pricing in eight categories of new and resale homes, ranging from the smallest-size category of “1,500-2,000 square feet, 1 story with 3 bedrooms” to the largest-size category
of “3,000-4,000 square feet, 2 story with 4 bedrooms.”

In three of the eight categories, the average closing price of new homes was less than the average closing price of comparable resale homes. For example, the average closing price of homes in the category of “2,500-3,000 square feet, 2 story with 3 bedrooms” was $10 less per square foot for a new home compared with a resale home.

In another analysis and report, the SalesTraq division of Applied Analysis concluded “the gap is less dramatic” between median resale and median new home prices. The difference between the two figures “is not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison.”

For example, the average age of a resale home closed in 2014 was 22 years, suggesting that half the homes were constructed prior to 1992, SalesTraq noted. “There are a significant number of differences between a 22-year-old home and a new construction unit, including technology, current building codes, required maintenance and refurbishments, size and other factors.”

A new home, built to the International Energy Conservation Code, is 30 percent more energy efficient than homes built in the early 2000s, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy. New homes built to the Energy Star program requirements are even more energy efficient.

Also, the average size of a resale closing in 2014 was 1,834 square feet compared with the new-home average size of 2,369. That 535-square-foot difference could account for $50,000 or more of the pricing gap, SalesTraq concluded. The association calculates that the 535-square-foot difference accounts for $61,527 of the pricing gap.