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New-home closings up 10.7 percent over ’14

At the halfway mark, it looks like 2015 is shaping up as a solid year for the local new-home sector despite some strong headwinds.

Local builders closed on 2,993 units from January through June, including 633 closings in June alone, according to local research firm Home Builders Research.

The six-month total is up 290 sales, or 10.7 percent, measured against the same period a year ago.

“The recovery of the new-home segment is going in the right direction and at a pace that is good for longer-term stability,” said Dennis Smith, Home Builders Research’s president. “In our opinion, given the persistent presence of a lot of negative equity among many current homeowners that keeps them locked in their current situation, a 10 percent year-to-year growth of new-home sales is awfully good.”

National real estate research firms place the share of locals who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth at anywhere from 25 percent to 30 percent.

The median new-home closing price in June was $303,047, up $14,855, or 5.1 percent, compared with June 2014. Still, it was down from the previous three months — an indication of the market’s “bumpy road” to recovery, Smith said.

Perhaps the brightest spot in the latest statistics came among permits, which soared in June to their largest single-month levels since July 2008.

Local builders pulled 841 new-home permits, up from just under 700 permits in May, and in June 2014.Builders pulled 4,130 permits in the first six months of 2015, for a year-over-year gain of 759 permits, or 22.5 percent.

Despite the improvements, economists, analysts and forecasters have toned down earlier projections of an especially bullish year because of headwinds such as below-expected national gross domestic product growth, weak increases in household income and a pullback in employment numbers.

Construction jobs

Nevada got the nod for above-average gains in its construction sector, although the industry has yet to recover to anything approaching its prerecession levels.

The Associated General Contractors of America highlighted Nevada in a recent report as the nation’s second-fastest growing construction labor market, with job gains of 11.1 percent, or 7,000 jobs, year over year in June. Much of the growth has come in the city’s travel and tourism sector, thanks to projects such as Genting’s Resorts World Las Vegas and MGM-AEG’s $350 million arena behind the New York-New York.

Only Idaho, with growth of 12.9 percent, or 4,600 positions, expanded at a higher rate. Other states in the top five were Michigan, Arkansas and North Carolina.

Still, Nevada remained well below boom-era employment. The state had 69,800 construction jobs in June, according to the Employment, Training and Rehabilitation Department. That was less than half of a 2006 peak of 148,000 jobs. The industry bottomed out at 46,700 positions in mid-2012.

From May to June, Nevada added 1,800 jobs, or 2.6 percent.

PENTA expands

One of the resort corridor’s biggest general contractors increased its local staff.

The PENTA Building Group added four employees to its Las Vegas office, bringing its statewide total to more than 120 people.

The additions follow 16 hires in May.

The new jobs are in quality assurance and quality control, training and project engineering.

PENTA has offices in California, Arizona and Oklahoma, although most of its staff is in Nevada.

The 15-year-old company has built projects in sectors such as health care, education, public works and retail, but much of its recent local work is concentrated on and around the resort corridor. Projects it has completed include the Sahara’s transformation into SLS Las Vegas and the Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s.

PENTA has also handled room remodels for Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas, Palms and Monte Carlo.

Health care contracts

DC Building Group landed contracts for two health care-related projects.

The general contractor will renovate the Mission Pines Nursing & Rehabilitation Center at 2860 E. Cheyenne Ave., as well as the offices of Goldring Neurology at 2020 Goldring Ave.

The projects have a combined value of about $1.4 million.

“Health care is an important component of our overall portfolio at DC Building Group and these projects, once complete, will be of great value to our community,” said Shawn Danoski, founder and CEO.

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