The housing market is hurting everyone, and 2007 will surely go down as the year many builders crashed and burned. But there are a few Teflon ventures that have managed to defy the odds and rack up healthy sales in an otherwise weary landscape. And they aren't necessarily using incentives or gimmicks to move inventory. In many cases, savvy design is what's helping these beacons outshine the competition and snap buyers out of their inertia.
In this feature, Builder takes a closer look at a handful of such projects and reports back on who's buying them, for how much, and what it is that makes them too good to pass up.
A Las Vegas builder gambles on a vertical product type and wins big.
When Christopher Homes developed plans for the first two mid-rise buildings to be unveiled as C2 Lofts, the thought was to stick its toe in the water and see how buyers would react to a vertical housing type not indigenous to Las Vegas. Let's just say that since then, the builder has taken the plunge, with 20 more loft buildings in the works for what is now to become a 36-acre, urban-style neighborhood in the larger master planned community of Summerlin.
“We said early on that if the market accepted this type of product, we'd expand, and that's exactly what happened,” says Erika Geiser, vice president of marketing for Christopher Homes, which is now anticipating 800 loft-style residences upon build-out, including some that are live/work units for retailers. “Most affluent people in Las Vegas live in single-family detached homes, so we weren't sure what the reaction would be.”
By all accounts, it's been positive, if preliminary sales are any indication. The first loft building opened in July 2007 with 40 units, of which 32 were sold (25 closed escrow) by late September. At press time, 13 more lofts had been sold in subsequent buildings. Eight of those sales happened over a period of 10 days.
Buyer curiosity has been further confirmed by traffic jams in the models, which officially opened in September and drew more than 675 groups (Geiser estimates about 1,350 people) in the first four weeks. “By comparison, other mid-rise projects in Las Vegas are barely getting 10 groups in a week, and one or two sales per month,” she says. “That's if they're lucky. Some are just getting cancellations.”
Quintessential loft features such as open floor plans, floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed ductwork, and brick wall treatments have no doubt fueled buyer fever, but the unique selling proposition has been as much about lifestyle as architecture, Geiser says. Shared amenities include a Zen courtyard, a bamboo garden, a furnished roof garden, a dog park, a heated pool, a spa, a fitness center, and concierge services. The project is also within walking distance of oodles of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues, including the new Red Rock Casino and Spa.
“Land is scarce and expensive now, so more builders are building vertical,” Geiser observes. Apparently it's a good bet.
Project: C2 Lofts in Summerlin, Las Vegas; Sales started: June 2006; Units planned: 800; Price: mid-$300,000s to $1 million+; Unit size: 900 to 3,300 square feet; Builder/Developer: C2 Lofts, a Christopher Co., Las Vegas; Interior designer: Design Tec, Las Vegas; Landscape designer: Nuvis Landscape Architects, Las Vegas
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Las Vegas, NV.