Changing Las Vegas Resale HomeValues

COMMENTARY: Steve Miller
Las Vegas Tribune
June 26, 2002

Two years ago I complained on these pages that Las Vegas existing home sales were in a slump because of competition from new home builders developing cookie cutter neighborhoods on the outskirts of town.

I discussed how our older neighborhoods were becoming slums because resale home values were not keeping up with the Consumer Price Index causing many older home owners to convert their properties into rentals. Now, luckily, all that has changed!

Thanks to Review Journal real estate reporter Hubble Smith, a new report by SalesTraq, a local real estate research firm, was published in last Sunday's RJ.

Amazingly, homes in the oldest Las Vegas neighborhoods according to the report have made a startling turnaround in appreciation values. Neighborhoods that were shunned by home buyers only a year ago have become the enclaves of choice for savvy home buyers.

The pleas of the Stratosphere neighbors to not let the roller coaster intrude on their neighborhood's tranquility now ring true with solid figures. The 89104 zip code residents are for the first time in decades enjoying a 4 - 6% appreciation of their home values each year.

Then, on the other side of the tracks where I live in the 89102 zip area, the real surprise occurred! My forty year old neighborhood along with surrounding neighborhoods that were build in the 1950's are described in Smith's article as the "Hot Spot for home appreciation" with a whopping 16% appreciation in home values!

I could not wait to photocopy the RJ article and present one to each of my neighbors in the pristine area where I live just off Rancho and Sahara. Too many of my neighbors have felt discouragement in past years and either rented out their lovely tree shaded homes, or let maintenance fall behind.

Now, my neighbors have a new sense of pride in knowing their beautiful neighborhood is gaining market value, and days following the Smith article, I found workmen and equipment on my street doing remodeling and other long needed tasks.

Why this windfall?  What went wrong or right to cause prospective home buyers to look inward at the old neighborhoods in LV?  The answer is one word: Gridlock.

While new neighborhoods in Summerlin and Green Valley are shown in the RJ article as falling into negative appreciation numbers, some areas as bad as - 5%, the classic Westside neighborhoods occupied by mostly African American and Latino families, are enjoying 3 - 8% appreciation just because they are in the center of the city.

While the Lake at Las Vegas suffered a 1% decline, classic Twin Lakes appreciated 7%! While Spring Valley fell 1%, the old neighborhood across from the former Showboat surged 10%, and the antique houses just off 17th and Fremont appreciated 3%.

People would rather not waste their lives idling in traffic when they can pull off the freeway, Charleston, or Sahara Ave. and be in their tree lined driveway ten minutes after leaving work on the Strip or Downtown. Sure, most of the old homes need some work, but such fixing up is a bargain compared to the wasted time trekking across town to a new home in the Lakes, an area that fell 1% in certain sectors.

When I'm bumper to bumper on Sahara or Spring Mountain behind a Spanish Trails or TPC bound Rolls Royce or Ferrari, I can smile because I know that in less than five minutes I will be in my old neighborhood, swimming in my forty-year old swimming pool while the trekkers are sitting at the next stop light.

I never thought I would be giving thanks for poor roads and gridlock, but I am shamelessly finding myself doing so today because the center of our dilapidated city is finally benefiting. Please don't vote for an increase in the sales tax to pay for new roads to the hinterlands so more people can clog them. No city is any better than its core, and amazingly, Downtown Las Vegas is finally getting a break thanks to our clogged roads.

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman and Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner.
Visit his website at: