Las Vegas was the epicenter of the housing crisis 10 years ago. One in three homes went into foreclosure, people lost their jobs, the economy tanked and entire neighborhoods turned into ghost towns.
Fast-forward to today and Las Vegas is booming. If one squints, Northern Las Vegas (zip code 89031) looks like the model of the housing recovery…the housing market is hot, the economy is growing, companies are hiring BUT the middle class is being squeezed because corporate gains and stock market increases do NOT filter down from the top tiers and consumer debt is growing.
Whatever “bargains” there were to be had during the housing crisis are gone today. Prices have increased +135% in all of Nevada since the market bottom, almost three times as fast and as much as average home prices have increased nationally.
Northern Las Vegas with its population of 250,000 people is considered to be one of the fastest growing communities in the country. Amazon has added to that population with two Northern Las Vegas centers and Sephora will add thousands more to Northern Las Vegas with its soon-to-be-completed warehouse facility.
The problem? Housing prices in Northern Las Vegas have risen so fast and so much that many neighborhoods in this zip code are no longer affordable. With pawnshops as common as golf courses, squat and basic housing next to luxury homes, and prices still below pre-crisis peaks, Northern Las Vegas is considered one of the most overvalued housing markets in the country.
Today, renters live in 45% of the single-family houses in Northern Las Vegas. In 2008, 33% of single-family houses in this zip code were tenant occupied. Compound the “renter” problem with one of the highest rates of rent increases in the country and one of the lowest rates of accepting Section 8 housing vouchers or subsidized rental assistance.
Clearly, Northern Las Vegas is a landscape of contrasts. Renters are the majority housing consumers, so-called affordable neighborhoods are now unaffordable in zip code 89031 and houses at the upper end of the market “are going like hotcakes…in just three days, or even one day…and they’re going for the asking price or above.” said Trish Nash, a broker and longtime resident in this community.
Let’s hope the Northern Las Vegas housing is not time traveling to a déjà vu scenario.