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Masters champion, rocker buy Vegas homes

A former Masters and British Open championship golfer and a rocker closed on new multimillion-dollar homes in April as the luxury market remains ahead of its 2019 pace despite the slowdown from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Home Builders Research reported there were 82 new-home closings of $1 million and above during the first four months, which was up from 75 during the same period of 2019. In April, when the region was shut down by the coronavirus, there were 26 luxury new-home closings, only one behind the 27 in April 2019. The bigger impact on new luxury home sales should be felt in coming months as closing numbers are recorded, the Las Vegas research firm reported.

In April, Clark County property records show golfer Mark O’Meara, who now plays on the PGA Tour Champions and his wife, Meredith, closed on a $2.52 million Christopher Homes one-story residence in the golf course community within Southern Highlands. It has four bedrooms and 4½ baths with an expansive great room, office and four-car garage, according to the Multiple Listing Service.

Mark Stuhmer of Christopher Homes Realty was the listing agent, and Rob Wilner with Nartey-Wilner Group of Simply Vegas was the buyer’s agent.

It was the sixth-highest price paid for a new home in 2020, Home Builders Research reported.

Guitarist and songwriter Kerry King of thrash metal band Slayer and his wife, Ayesha, paid $3.81 million for a home south of the 215 Beltway between Interstate 15 and Decatur Boulevard in a section of the valley known as Enterprise. It was built by Jewel Homes, according to county records.

The home measures 5,116 square feet with five bedrooms and six baths, according to the MLS. King’s home was the third-highest price paid, according to Home Builders Research. Gavin Ernstone of Simply Vegas was the listing and buyer’s agent.

The 2019 and 2020 New American Homes in the Henderson hillside community Ascaya, which were displayed to an audience from around the world during the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, each sold for $5.5 million during the first quarter. They were detailed in Real Estate Millions in April.

The two residences were the highest-priced new homes closed in the first four months of 2020.

No. 4 on the list was $3.75 million paid by Howard and Charlotte Perley of Newport Beach, California, according to public records. Their single-story home in MacDonald Highlands was part of the Richard Luke Collection. It measures 6,100 square feet with four bedrooms.

No. 5 was part of the new collection of homes called Vu Estates by Christopher Homes at MacDonald Highlands. The development of 19 single-story homesites offers homes of 3,600 square feet to more than 5,000 square feet that range in price from $2 million to more than $3 million. Kristen K. Stevens of Naples, Florida, paid $2.77 million for one of the homes, according to Clark County property records.

Vu Estates had three of the top 10 new home sales during the first four months. Its first sales started in July 2018, and the highest priced was $3.01 million in December.

McDonald Highlands residents Leon and Debra Shwetz, who operate the Nothing Bundt Cakes bakery on Eastern Avenue were the buyers, according to Clark County property records. A longtime MacDonald Highlands resident Debra Shwetz was one of the co-founders of the famous chain of bakeries.

Only four of the 19 lots are left, according to Erika Geiser, vice president of sales of marketing for Christopher Homes.

“Sales have gone really well because they’re large single-story homes with golf course and Strip views,” said Geiser, who said the market has remained active.

“Construction is an essential business, and we’re still building. Even with COVID-19, it’s not like it was in 2008 and 2009. These buyers bought pre-COVID-19, and it’s not going to affect them closing. These are their dream homes. They customize these homes to suit their personal needs. We haven’t seen people wanting to back out of their dream home because of this blip that’s going on.”

In the past 30 days, as a sign of strength in the luxury market for its product line, Christopher Homes has sold four town homes at its Vu project in MacDonald Highlands, where the price points exceed $1 million.

“In the beginning of this, in March, there was certainly that 30-day adjustment period for what the new normal was, but I think there’s a very optimistic belief that we will get through this,” Geiser said. “People who needed to make a decision on a new-home purchase (especially those who live outside the market in California) are doing that because they need a home.”

No. 7 on the list of top 10 new home sales during the first four months is a home built by Paragon Life Builders at Southern Highlands for $2.48 million. It was bought by Frank and Lisa Sheets, according to Clark County property records.

No. 8 is a Vu Estates home in MacDonald Highlands. It was bought by Tony and Linda Bonnici, who paid $2.34 million, according to Clark County property records. Tony Bonnici is a vice president and general manager with Lotus Broadcasting. She is the former vice president of sales with KLAS-TV, Channel 8.

No. 9 also is a home in the Vu Estates with a price of $2.338 million paid by Dennis and Debbie Arn. He is the medical director at VCA Desert Inn Animal Hospital in Las Vegas, according to Clark County property records.

No. 10 at $2.3 million is a home in Spring Valley bought by Mobile Suit G. 001 LLC., which has a mailing address of a luxury condo at One Queensridge Place, according to Clark County property records. The MLS said it’s a four-bedroom home that measures 5,867 square feet. It has retractable walls that open to a resort-like backyard featuring a pool, spa, casita, outdoor shower, three fire pits and barbecue area.

Production builders

Among the new luxury homes constructed by production builders during the first four months, Richmond American and Toll Brothers had 23 closings each of $1 million or more — all 46 in Summerlin. Pulte built eight luxury homes, followed by Pardee with seven, Christopher Homes with five and Lennar two.

For production builders like Toll Brothers, Colleen McCullough, division vice president of sales and customer experience, said all of its sales of $1 million and above took place in their six Summerlin communities.

When Gov. Steve Sisolak shut down nonessential businesses in March, McCullough said the move had a big impact but the market has been “coming back steadily” and sales increasing week after week. The strongest segment has been its Mesa Ridge community, where properties go for $1.2 million to $3 million.

There were cancellations across the board, including in luxury, but as time has passed, those buyers have come back, McCullough said.

“The onset of COVID-19, since no one knew what was going on, probably stopped everyone doing $1 million and above building for spec, but that’s changing, too because we’ve been selling quite a few quick delivery (spec) homes now,” McCullough said. “It’s a living breathing organism that keeps changing every day.”

McCullough said new-home sales tend to slow during the heat of the summer, but she doesn’t expect that trend this year. Toll averaged about 10 sales a week in its luxury communities before the shutdown and is now averaging six a week, she said. That should increase soon, she added.

“I think it will go all the way into the fall because people are tired of being in their homes,” McCullough said. “Now, having been in their home for two months, they realize what they don’t want to live with anymore and want to find a new home. We are seeing increased demand that will grow as we get more open and people feel more confident about walking through.”

Nicole Bloom, division president at Richmond American Homes, said the high-end sales are continuing albeit at a slower pace. One of the challenges has been lenders being skeptical about offering jumbo loans for luxury sales for some buyers who are self-employed. At the same time, some prospective buyers are being conservative until the stock market stabilizes, she said.

“We averaged three to four a month, and now the average is one to two a month,” Bloom said of sales in its luxury two communities in Summerlin. She said she expects sales to pick up over the summer across all communities and price points, especially luxury.

“When the casinos reopen, that will be huge even though (casino jobs) aren’t the buyer profile for luxury,” Bloom said. “In general, it will speak to the overall confidence in the market. The sales have been ticking up and traffic is back up over 2,000 a week (in the valley). It’s lower than where it would normally be for this time frame, but we are seeing it go up significantly from a month or six weeks ago when traffic was at an all-time low.”

That doesn’t capture all of the activity in the luxury market. Some opt to buy lots and hire a builder to construct their own homes, like former NBA player Jordan Farmar did in Southern Highlands. The $3.5 million, one-story home measures 6,550 square feet.

Domanico Custom Homes is nearly done with the Farmar’s home and also will complete a $4.5 million luxury spec home in Southern Highlands this summer. The builder recently started construction on a second spec home in Southern Highlands for $3.2 million.

Growth Luxury Homes, which is building the home for Raiders head coach Jon Gruden in Southern Highlands, has two spec homes under construction of 8,000 square feet and 10,000 square feet, priced at $4.8 million and $5.9 million. One will be done within 30 days and the other in 60 to 90 days.

Transcon Pacific Co. which built the home of Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr, is building a spec home in Southern Highlands that is nearly completed. It’s listed for $3 million and $3.5 million if a pool and landscaping are included.