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Column: Homebuilders in Southern Nevada optimistic for 2024

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Mon, Jan 22, 2024 (2 a.m.)

At the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, we feel optimistic about the current outlook, predicting success driven by lowering interest rates, which will encourage more people to buy homes. Anticipating a heightened demand as interest rates decrease further, we remain positive about the upcoming year.

However, challenges persist within our industry, raising concerns for our entire community. Housing attainability diminishes when the cost to build a home is excessively high, with various factors contributing to this issue. Among these challenges are land availability and workforce issues, focal points we aim to address in the new year, building on our efforts from the past.

A major obstacle for homebuilders is the insufficient available land to build in Las Vegas. The high demand for Bureau of Land Management-released land is escalating land purchase costs, and projections indicate an imminent depletion of available space in the coming years. As our population surges, discussions between builders and lawmakers are underway to explore options for increasing the land supply to meet housing needs.

Our studies indicate a dire situation, and without actions taken to secure more land, the housing demand in our city is expected to surpass available land within a decade. It is imperative that we elect individuals who comprehend our challenges and can enact legislation beneficial to our community’s overall housing supply needs.

Beyond constructing homes, our thriving industry presents ample opportunities for economic development. Homebuilding drives the creation of essential infrastructure alongside new neighborhoods, including schools and parks. This growth is beneficial for Las Vegas, fostering job creation and economic prosperity. With the population increase showing no signs of slowing down, our commitment is steadfast to build homes at a pace that can meet the demand.

Complicating the overall cost-to-build situation is the aging-out of experienced skilled laborers, a challenge faced locally and across the country. The retirement of tradesmen poses a significant gap that must be addressed to prevent stagnation in our ability to build homes.

Acknowledging this issue, the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association played an active role last year in establishing the Southern Nevada Trades High School, providing a platform for the younger generation to acquire skills beneficial for a rewarding career path.

There is a critical need to reshape the perception of construction among young people, and we believe the school is an admirable step in illustrating the viability and profitability of careers in the trades.

Personally, I can attest to the industry’s positive impact, having begun as a laborer 30 years ago and gradually progressing to my current position. Fortunate to have had mentors who played a pivotal role in my career, I strongly advocate for fostering a community of mentorship, embodied by the positive strides taken by the trades school. In the ongoing effort to address the workforce challenge, such initiatives mark a significant step in the right direction.

Beyond the day-to-day challenges, we face a more difficult and personal task as we work to replace the inimitable Nat Hodgson, our CEO for over a decade who passed away in October. He will be remembered forever, and we are confident that his successor will carry on his passion. Nat wonderfully led the homebuilding community as a mentor and friend to us all.

The homebuilding community consists of exceptional individuals and companies actively engaged in a demanding industry. In my decades of experience, I have found that we all share a common thread of getting true satisfaction from delivering products that residents can call their home, sweet home.

Despite the challenges faced over the past several years, the enduring allure of the American dream persists, with people expressing a genuine desire to own a home. I am honored to assume a leadership position as our industrywide group reaffirms its commitment to crafting homes and fostering a sense of belonging and gratification for those undertaking the journey of homeownership.

Carlos Zuluaga is the 2024 Southern Nevada Home Builders Association president and vice president of operations at Tri Pointe Homes.

This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.

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