From building the pirate ship at Treasure Island nearly 20 years ago to constructing and renovating high-end homes in Las Vegas, today, Scott Acton and his Forte Specialty Contractors are now riding the wave of the luxury real estate market.
In a luxury segment with limited inventory, putting an aging million-dollar-plus home on the market doesn’t guarantee there’s a buyer, even with such high demand. Buyers, today, want the latest technology, high-end finishes and more open floor plans.
Some homeowners, such as Forte CEO and founder Acton, are jumping aboard this trend, spotting opportunities to tap into the robust luxury market that craves modern designs.
Acton purchased a 2003 home in Red Rock Country Club for $1.025 million in September 2020. He spent a year updating the home and has placed it on the market for $3.5 million. Forte Speciality Contractors is constructing some of the most expensive new homes in Las Vegas, including several at the Summit Club in Summerlin.
The two-story home that’s listed by his daughter, Samantha Paez, a Realtor with Signature Real Estate Group, measures 4,546 square feet after 100 square feet was added. It has five bedrooms, six baths and an office that can double as a gym.
“We acquired the home because it was the right place at the right time,” Acton said. “It sits on the golf course in Red Rock. The way homes were designed (20 years ago) are not what people are looking for, today. We completely gutted this home and changed its structure. We added steel windows and doors to the home. We modernized everything. It’s a flush base and (high-end upgrades) throughout with contemporary marble and stone. It’s a special place.”
The remodeled home has Diana Royal marble flooring past the gold lacquered metal slat wall that separates the dining and living room spaces. There’s a double island marble-countered kitchen that features white European millwork finishes, Viking appliances and custom banquette seating, Paez said.
The den, powder room and a en suite bedroom is on the first level, with the remaining four en suite bedrooms upstairs. The primary bedroom features a patio, custom fabric headboard attached to the wall, with the bath featuring floor-to-ceiling Vanilla Onyx marble, Paez said.
The backyard has new etched concrete, landscaping and a new pool and a spa with views of the golf course.
Las Vegas-based Forte also operates in California and Arizona. The company is building 15 homes for clients in The Summit adjacent to Red Rock Country Club. Acton said they do luxury remodels like the latest one only for homes they acquire and resell.
“We usually build in the $10 million to $20 million range, and we thought this level of sophistication and fit and finish would bode well in older country clubs,” Acton said. “I think people aren’t prepared for the level it takes to create a home like this. It was a yearlong process — the redesign and structural engineering. It takes a special skill to deliver at this level. We do a lot of this in Southern California by taking a lot of the beach properties and adding value.”
Acton said homes they built in the Summit, for example, cost $2,000 to $2,200 a square foot. They remodel homes for $700 to $800 a square foot.
“We see a real sweet spot there,” Acton said. “Normally, we build ground-up for clients. We find properties in the right ZIP code and right gated community, or if it’s on a golf course or has a view of a lake or ocean. Those are our targets, and we can bring that level of sophistication and execution to these different developments that will command a higher price. Our business is moving away from customers and into our own development.”
Acton said his daughter, who has worked for him for three years, scouts for these properties.
Paez said many homes in Red Rock Country Club and other neighborhoods at a similar price point to what they had are sitting on the market because they were built in 2001 to 2005 and haven’t been updated.
“With this property, we re-invisioned the floor plan because the architects of 20 years ago, people don’t live like that anymore,” Acton said. “It’s a family home, but it’s open and lives under one room. A mother (or dad) of four to five kids can stand in the kitchen and can see the pool.”
Renovating homes in excess of 4,000 square feet, requires a major overhaul. Several walls were removed and new electrical and plumbing systems were installed.
“When we first saw the home, we ended up adding a full bedroom and bathroom,” Paez said. “That’s where some of the square footage came in as well as in the living room. It had beautiful bones and was ready for a complete renovation. It was extremely outdated. It had older darker cabinets that were no longer in, but now we have European white cabinets.”
The master bathroom was extended into the bedroom because it was so large, Paez said. People live more in their bathroom than they do in their bedroom, and they added a makeup counter to it.
“I think it definitely caters to being a family home,” Paez said. “We have a double island, large pantry and banquette seating. It’s great for entertaining and large groups of people. It’s warm and friendly with warm marble floors as well as the kitchen counters and bathrooms. The bathroom stone is beautiful.”
Acton said homes they build and remodel have “a feeling to them.” His firm is what he called “experiential builders” that started in the theme-park business and ultimately went into hospitality and experiential dining and retail.
“The fixtures and acoustics in the home and softness and livability is just different from what you see,” Acton said. “Just because a home is bigger doesn’t make it customer-special. It has to be thoughtful, and we put a lot of thought, love and care into our developments. If you look at the before-and-after for this, it’s just mind-boggling to see what it was versus what it is, today.”
Acton said he trained under casino mogul Steve Wynn. His firm worked for Wynn in Macau and in Las Vegas for his properties. Forte has built out Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace and Carbone at Aria Las Vegas. The company did Margaritaville for Universal Studios and has worked on Disney projects.
“We’ve had amazing luck and been exposed to a lot of different projects,” Acton said. “Taking that experiential side of the world and bringing it into the way people live is really special. And through these last few years of the COVID pandemic, people value time more than they do a lot of things. That’s why delivering something that’s done is important. Not everyone sees the difference, but there are a select few people (who) can walk in and notice these finishes and aren’t shy about being willing to pay for them. That’s what we want to provide to people.”
Acton said he was pushed into the luxury home market by working for Wynn Resorts, its largest commercial customer.
Former Wynn Chief Operating Officer Marc Schorr requested Acton build him a 13,000-square-foot home in the Summit in less than 14 months. It was one of the first homes built in the uber-luxury resort development.
“Typically, in this industry it takes a lot longer to do this,” Acton said. “We approach the build very differently, like a commercial builder because that’s how we were trained. That allows us to expedite. We self-perform some of the trades. We have 180 employees and are well-equipped with whatever comes our way.”
Some of the most spectacular homes they’ve built they can’t talk about because there’s non-disclosure agreements, Acton said. Outside of Las Vegas, they’ve built estates in Newport Beach and Dana Point in California and West Palm Beach in Florida.
“We’ve worked with some of the most amazing architects and designers in the world, and we’re very fortunate,” Acton said.
Some of the homes Acton said he’s built in the Summit are worth between $20 million and as high as $50 to $60 million. They’ve built four homes so far, five are in some stage of construction and another six to eight will start in the next year, he said.
“A lot of them haven’t traded hands, yet,” Acton said. “A few that have, are trading north of $2,300 to $2,400 a square foot, which puts a 20,000-square-foot home at what number?”
That would mean the homes would be on the market for about $50 million
Acton said there’s a considerable number of homes still to build in the Summit, and he anticipates for what they’ve been contracted for, that they’ll finish in mid-2024. Homes range in size from 10,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet.
Acton said he continues to be surprised by the luxury market in Las Vegas. If the trend line stays as it is in California, the market will continue to grow in Las Vegas, he said.
“The homes we’re building in the Summit are legacy homes,” Acton said. “I feel like people are building their dream home. They’re either retiring or having some kind of liquidity event. With the security they provide out there, and the golfing, and the restaurant (everything) is world-class service. The Summit has definitely changed luxury in Las Vegas. It has changed the view of Las Vegas. For the people coming here now, (they are) a different breed, very sophisticated and creative people.”
About the home
Price: $3.5 million
Location: 11489 Snow Creek Ave., Red Rock Country Club.
Size: 4,546 square feet on 8,276 square-foot lot. It has five bedrooms and six baths.
Features: Extensive remodel of a two-story home with walls removed to create openness, high-end finishes and the addition of a swimming pool.
History: Built in 2003. It was acquired for $1.025 million in 2020.
Agent: Samantha Paez, Signature Real Estate Group