LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As the drought deepened, housing construction boomed in Las Vegas from 2010 to 2020, according to a new study that places the valley just outside the Top 10 for fastest growth.
The Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise metro area ranked 11th over the decade for largest growth in housing among the country’s largest metro areas. The number of housing units grew by nearly 100,000 — a 12.3% jump from 2010.
It’s a distinction that’s full of conflicts for the Las Vegas valley. The recession that started in 2008 hit the construction industry in Las Vegas and other cities hard, and new housing construction lagged behind population growth. The survey indicates the valley population increased 17.6% over the decade.
And in the past few years, housing prices have skyrocketed in Las Vegas, pricing many young families out of the market. The valley is still trying to find good solutions for affordable housing.
On top of that, concerns about water escalated. The decade saw a drought that began in 2000 continue. Now, people are beginning to worry about sufficient water supplies for continued growth. Government leaders assure the public that conservation efforts already in place have been successful, but as the drought goes into its 23rd year, concerns linger.
A look at the 15 metro areas with the largest growth in housing construction shows that only two are in the desert Southwest, where reliance on Colorado River water is heavy. The Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler metro area ranks 15th. Housing in the Phoenix area grew by 11.4% as the population grew by 19.1%.
The Las Vegas metro area added 99,625 housing units, for a total of 912,465 at the end of the decade. Phoenix added 198,147 housing units, reaching 1,943,813 in 2020, according to the study.
“Are cities like Phoenix,” asked water conservationist Kyle Roerink, “Are they going to be able to come to grips with the fact that they can’t add a million new people? Same thing with Las Vegas.”
“There needs to be a bit of a moratorium here,” Roerink said. He is the executive director of the Great Basin Water Network.
The study showed 54.8% of the housing units in metro Las Vegas were occupied by the owner.
Government officials — some who are coming up on an election and would never oppose growth, Roerink notes — look at numbers that show Southern Nevada using less than its allocation of river water, and see room for growth.
The study was published by Stessa, a rental property manager that used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2020).
The three fastest-growing metro areas for housing construction from 2010 to 2020 are Charlotte, North Carolina, (48.7%), Grand Rapids, Michigan, (30.8%) and Austin, Texas (26.7%). Population growth outpaced construction in all three of those metro areas, too.
And although the demand for housing has grown substantially, the study housing construction study notes that more is still needed around the country.
According to a 2021 report from federal mortgage backer Freddie Mac, the U.S. is short nearly 4 million housing units based on the country’s population and housing needs.
The study also notes that growth in housing costs has been one of the major contributing factors for inflation over the past year. Find the full survey on Stessa’s website.