Affordable Housing Is Driving Las Vegas Growth

Posted on by & filed under Nevada by the Numbers Blog.

We have long known that the U.S. population has been shifting from the Midwest to the Sun Belt. Las Vegas has been a top beneficiary of this trend, regaining a position in the top 10 fastest growing metro areas after a drop off due to the recession.

A look at new Census data by Pew finds that one of the results of the housing bust in Nevada is also helping to drive new growth:  affordable housing prices.

In the past, growth was not only strong in the sunny states of Nevada, California, Arizona, and Florida. The suburbs of cultural and economic hot-spots like New York City, Washington D.C., and Silicon Valley also saw strong population increases. However, fewer people moved to these locations in 2015 than they did in 2014, while Las Vegas and other Sun Belt metro areas continued to see increases.

Among the reasons for this are the priorities of the so-called Millennial generation, now the largest workforce in the nation by age. Many are searching for a place to settle down, and the cost of housing is the top factor for Millennials considering a move.

Affordability is also important for retirees with fixed incomes. In the heart of Silicon Valley, the median price of a home is nearly $1 million. In Brooklyn’s Kings County or Virginia’s D.C. suburbs, that figure is well over $500,000. Compare that with Las Vegas, which had a median single family home price of just $220,000 in March. Similar trends hold up for average rental costs.

It’s no wonder, then, that Clark County saw a population rise of 46,000 last year, a growth increase of 5,000 over 2014. Washoe County also saw an increase in year-over-year population growth.

Meanwhile, Santa Clara County added 3,000 fewer people in 2015 than the year prior, and Kings County posted its slowest growth in a decade.

The population expansion and a tight housing supply are contributing to a recent increase in Nevada’s housing prices. However, the state’s major metro areas will likely maintain a clear price advantage over many other metros for years to come, attracting out-of-state workers or retirees who are seeking an affordable cost of living.