Friday, May 14, 2010 | 3 a.m.
Local homebuilder American West unveiled its latest collection — American West Reserve at Coronado Ranch — at a May 6 grand opening preview event that included a presentation by Las Vegas real estate authority Richard Lee, who said a turnaround is coming in the local market.
Lee isn’t predicting exactly when the market will turn around, but he is getting more optimistic.
“If there’s one point I want to get across, it’s that it’s time to get ready for recovery,” said Lee, vice president of the Nevada division and director of public relations for First American Title Insurance Co. “But it’s do-over time — time for a second chance. The old Vegas formula just doesn’t work anymore.”
In a subsequent interview, Lee went on to say, “(The American West event) was the first really positive presentation I have had in two years, and I felt better about the momentum than I have in two years. I felt really excited again, and it was refreshing.”
“With the old format, you built hotel rooms, which created jobs and the migration of people and a demand for housing, which caused retail. And it mushroomed from there, and that’s what we’ve been living off of,” he said. “The homebuilding industry has historically been an economic leader in bringing our nation out of a recession, but it’s not happening so much this time.
“Because there’s so much excess supply, we can’t build our way out of the recession. So we need to really figure out how to get lean and mean and more efficient. Some models say that for every boom, there’s a bust, but then there is always some kind of recovery, because the human spirit will make sure there is.
“I think people are tired of hiding in the hole waiting for something to happen. It’s time to take it to the next level.”
More than 300 Southern Nevada real estate agents turned out to tour the models in the Reserve collection, which opened to the public May 8 near Rainbow Boulevard and Wigwam Avenue. American West’s first community to debut this year, the Reserve features three two-story floor plans ranging in size from 2,492 square feet to 3,019 square feet. Four- and five-bedroom homes are available, with prices starting at $254,500.
NV Energy representatives were on hand at the Realtors’ preview reception to discuss the Energy Plus residential rating system that the homes achieved.
“The event was very successful,” said Bonnie Hernandez, American West’s executive director of marketing. “We had over 300 Realtors attend and the response was outstanding. They loved the floor plans, the architectural attention to detail and, of course, the prices.’’
Realtors noted the turnout may be a sign that the local residential market is poised to emerge from its slump.
“Of course, everybody is familiar with American West Homes, but over the last few years, this is the largest open-house event held by any company that I’ve seen,” said Realtor Asa Lawson, a certified distressed property expert with Realty One Group, adding that he is cautiously optimistic about recovery. “It’s shown signs of improvement. The number of homes listed in the (Multiple Listing Service) is about half the amount it was a year ago, so the inventory is dropping, which is good. I work with a lot of buyers and they’re just waiting until it bottoms out, and I think we’re scraping the bottom right now. Hopefully, it’s all uphill from here.”
Brad Snyder, a Realtor with Zip Realty, expressed a similar sentiment.
“Agents are tired of short sales and foreclosures, and looking to new-home alternatives is definitely a positive sign,” Snyder said. “I was also very surprised by the turnout. It was the most impressive grand opening I’ve seen in quite awhile. American West put on a good show and had a good draw. They also brought in Richard Lee, who we all know in the industry. He’s always worth listening to, and his insights are usually pretty dead-on.”
Danielle Birkin is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to In Business Las Vegas.