This year, I take on a responsibility that many professionals in my field have carried before me. But as each year differs from the next, especially in the homebuilding world, I know I’ll have my work cut out for me as I lead the association to collaboratively tackle what challenges lie ahead in 2023.
As the newly elected president of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, I’m ready to embrace what will likely be some uphill battles. But with all ups and downs experienced in the Las Vegas Valley and with ongoing fluctuation itself being our only constant variable, the strength and resilience of this industry has always prevailed and we are certain the lasting outcomes of our work will benefit our wider community and preserve access to the new market for as many Nevadans as possible.
Yes, it does appear that there will be challenges in 2023. We are still recovering in a post-COVID world, which rocked many industries, but maybe not so uniquely as it did with residential building. We continue to see ever changing costs in the lumber market; from record-high lumber costs in the first half of 2022 to some stabilization late in the year and back to seeing increases again starting in February 2023. Lumber, arguably the most volatile component of the construction process, is not the only kink in the supply chain or increased costs we’ve experienced. With inflation rates reaching their highest rate in 40 years, we saw sales plummet as more and more working families were priced out of the market.
For anyone looking to make a major financial decision like a home purchase, rising interest rates are going to be burdensome. Experts say interest rates and inflation are potentially slowing, and while there isn’t much we are able to control, I am looking forward to leading the association and working with policymakers to keep regulatory costs and land-development impacts to a low. If a house isn’t affordable to build, it isn’t affordable to buy.
For Las Vegas residents worried that we’ll see similar outcomes as the 2008 recession, we know that this current adjustment is very different. One of the most significant differences is that current lending guidelines do not allow for the situations that led to the 2008 recession. We know that buyers purchasing in the past few years had to qualify with a job, income and credit scores, and those parameters should not lead to the same extraordinary influx of short sales and foreclosures we saw in the previous downturn.
I don’t believe you hone your skills or even necessarily address your challenges in this industry when the market is abundant. Also, there is more for us to be concerned about than just sales as we still face many existing problems that are a concern for the future. This includes filling the workforce pipeline that the building industry still lacks. That landscape may not be as desolate as it has been in recent years, but with generations of skilled laborers retiring, we’re still looking at an unsustainable shortage of trade workers that we will need to resolve for the years to come.
We’re proud to be making progress in opening up the Southern Nevada Trades High School, which has really come together over the past two years. The project is intended to provide great educational opportunities for young individuals who want to pursue a fantastic career in homebuilding and other trades.
I’m also passionate about guiding more women not only into homebuilding as a career but also having more women in leadership positions. We’ve only had three female SNHBA presidents in the past several decades, and we can do better. It’s important for us to show young women all the great opportunities that exist in this industry and that just because homebuilding or construction may not be the obvious choice for women, it is actually a fantastic one.
I’d like to prioritize our Professional Women in Building Council, which focuses on advancing women in the building industry through educational scholarships, mentorships and networking opportunities. Recently, the council formed a nonprofit corporation to optimize the way we’re able to operate and to make way for an endowment so that scholarship dollars can be perpetual. As a nonprofit, we’re excited about the ability to reach larger corporations that will be able to make substantial financial contributions and truly benefit women in the industry on another level.
The population of Las Vegas will continue to rise, and Southern Nevada still faces a looming land shortfall that is hanging in the balance of federal conversations. Our legislative committee will prioritize our work with local government and elected officials to make sure that our land use planning and available acreage for building will meet Southern Nevada’s need for my children and my children’s children. This is vital as we brace for a population surge of 100,000 new Southern Nevada residents every year for the next two decades — a rate that will outpace how fast we can build with the land supply we have available for development.
Nicole Bloom is 2023 president of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association and Division President of Richmond American Homes of Nevada Inc.