By Andy Wang | May 4, 2015 | Home & Real Estate
The doyennes of Las Vegas real estate give us the lowdown on the local market.
Represented by Kristen Routh-Silberman, MacDonald Highlands at Dragon Ridge Country Club is one of Vegas’s finest country clubs , with exquisite views and amenities.
Las Vegas real estate had a watershed year in 2014. Mixed-use developments debuted all over the city, capped by the initial phase of the stunning Downtown Summerlin, which will soon include luxury residences. Developers resurrected long-dormant projects and announced new ones, with hundreds of acres of million-dollar lots ready for custom homes.
With 2015 shaping up to be just as exciting and fruitful, we spoke to four power brokers at the center of the action. Carol Cline-Ong is CEO of the commercial behemoth MDL Group, which last year saw many of its listings 100 percent leased and this year will stay busy with a 400,000-square-foot mega project in Henderson. Phyllis Schwartz is a highly respected longtime broker who catapulted back to the top of the market last year with a $4.2 million sale at Turnberry Towers. Specializing in luxury homes, Florence Shapiro and her Shapiro & Sher Group are marketing Ascaya in Henderson, with 300-plus lots starting at about $800,000. And Kristen Routh-Silberman of Synergy Sotheby’s International Realty has been tapped to sell the final phase of MacDonald Highlands, 230 lots that will range in price from $500,000 to $5 million. Who better to talk to about Vegas real estate than four women dominating a market on the rise again?
Florence Shapiro thinks East Coasters moving out west will be drawn to places like Ascaya in Henderson, with lots starting at $800,000.
Talk about the state of the market in 2014.
Carol Cline-Ong: There were two interesting milestones: At one of our monthly broker meetings during first quarter, as our agents discussed their activity, five of our industrial listings had achieved 100 percent occupancy and five others were in the 90 percent range. The other was our company’s growth in property management. The growth was coming from existing clients buying more property or transferring other properties to us and from retention of management accounts when properties sold.
Phyllis Schwartz: There were expensive high-end home sales. It started jumping up a lot, and then I sold the Turnberry one for $4.2 million—in cash.
Florence Shapiro: In 2013 we sold three times that of 2012, and in 2014 we came very close to that. The market has exploded. Between $1.5 million and $2.4 million, inventory is very, very tight.
Kristen Routh-Silberman: Last year represented the end of the Vegas residential real estate meltdown chapter. As a listing agent, the biggest change for me was going back to listing. In order to survive the last few years, you needed to be on the buyer side.
Where are we in terms of 2015 trajectory?
Shapiro: The pricing is stable, which is good for the market. We had seen the market increase 30 percent to 50 percent [from the bottom], depending on where the house was located. Now things have stabilized. We’re putting things into escrow constantly.
Routh-Silberman: The market will stay the same for the next two to three years—no more volatility. However, mortgage rates will start to inch up. You should sell this year because prices won’t go up that much, but interest rates will be higher. So net-net, it’s better to sell this year and better to buy this year, too.
Schwartz: Commercial is picking up. I’ve had an empty office building for over four years, and I just had seven phone calls about it in a week. We’re going to need more medical facilities with Obamacare. With the commercial picking up and more hotels, that means more housing is going to be needed. Now we have a lot of rentals. There are a lot of investors who have picked up blocks of homes. Once the market picks up, these investors are going to sell.
Cline-Ong: We are going to have continued growth. It might even be dramatic in the second part of the year. We have had substantial increases in pricing over the past year, but we are still below replacement costs. We are going to start seeing private and midmarket developers announcing ground-up development—not just the institutional players.
Schwartz: Taxes are high in California; you’ve got a lot of people moving here. After this winter, the influx from the East Coast moving west is going to be big.
Shapiro: We’re getting people from New Jersey and Chicago, and they’re buying. They really want out.
In a major deal brokered by Carol Cline-Ong in third-quarter 2013, Harsch Investment Properties purchased Valley Freeway Center for $14.6 million.
What are you excited about working on next?
Schwartz: I’m trying to get my own office building leased. It was in escrow and fell apart. I’m also working to raise prices at Turnberry. My daughter is working with me, showing properties. When the market fell out, she went to short sales. I’m trying to give her a boost to get her back in the upper end.
Shapiro: At Ascaya, we’re emphasizing architecture. Every house will be very different. There are going to be four houses built by top architects nationwide. We’re going to build those houses so people will have an idea of what can happen here.
Cline-Ong: We are excited about a new multitenant for-lease industrial project in Henderson totaling approximately 400,000 square feet. This will help offset the fact that we see 2015 challenging due to the lack of inventory—specifically industrial.
Routh-Silberman: I am thrilled to represent two of the best residences in Vegas: the Primm Compound and the Rameses Estate. And I’m most excited about my new partnership with Richard MacDonald and MacDonald Highlands at Dragon Ridge Country Club. I have just been signed to represent the final phase of MacDonald Highlands, the last 230 lots that will ever be built there. MacDonald Highlands is the finest, luxury, fully amenitized lifestyle country club in Vegas, with unprecedented panoramic Strip, mountain, city, and golf views. It’s life at the top.
photography by JpM StudioS; Courtesy of shapiro & sher (asCaya)