Howard Hughes Corp. report: Price per acre in Summerlin rose to $542K in 2015

A look at the Belmonte development off South Fox Hill Drive in Summerlin on May, 14, 2015. Summerlin land prices rose in 2015 to $542,000 in 2015.

Summerlin land sales kept sliding last year as the price of dirt climbed higher.

Developer Howard Hughes Corp. sold 218.7 acres in the Las Vegas Valley’s largest master-planned community last year. That’s down almost 22 percent from 2014 and the second consecutive annual drop, the company reported Monday.

The price per acre rose to $542,000 last year, up 4.6 percent from 2014 and the second consecutive annual jump.

Homebuilders, meanwhile, posted a far bigger boost in business in Summerlin than they did valley-wide.

Buyers last year scooped up around 600 new homes in the 22,500-acre community, up 38 percent from 2014. By comparison, builders sold 6,800 new homes throughout Clark County in 2015, up 13 percent from the year before, says Las Vegas-based Home Builders Research.

Builders’ sales volume in Summerlin last year was sixth best among U.S. master-planned communities, according to real estate consulting firm RCLCO.

Summerlin Land Prices on the Rise

Land prices are rising in Summerlin like this area off of S. Fox Hill Drive, making them far more expensive that land around the valley on Thursday, May 14, 2015.  L.E. Baskow Launch slideshow »

In a news release, Howard Hughes CEO David Weinreb said Summerlin “continued to deliver very solid revenues and prices per acre.”

Summerlin is one of the more popular and affluent places to live in Las Vegas, and according to Weinreb’s company, “land prices appear to be stabilizing consistent with 2014 levels.” The price per acre that year was $518,000, up 46 percent from 2013.

Sales totals, however, did not level off, slowing more in 2015 than it did the year before. Howard Hughes unloaded about 280 acres in 2014, down 11.6 percent from 2013.

Land sales have slowed valley-wide amid rising prices, though land in Summerlin is far more expensive than the typical parcel in Las Vegas, and Howard Hughes is known in real estate circles for tightly controlling supply, which helps keep prices high.

The company doesn’t flood the market with listings, which could push prices down on itself, but instead has typically put certain parcels up for bid to certain groups of builders.

It also has clauses in contracts with builders that let the company buy back undeveloped land. This prevents builders from selling vacant parcels in Summerlin and, amid the newfound competition, potentially driving down Howard Hughes’ prices.

“I want to control the market here; I don’t want a builder to control my market,” Kevin Orrock, president of Summerlin for Howard Hughes, told the Las Vegas Sun last year.

Planned for more than 200,000 residents, Summerlin runs along the western rim of the valley and is known for its parks, trails, upscale homes and proximity to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

It has about 105,000 residents, as well as 4,036 acres of residential land than still can be developed, 830 acres of open commercial land and a projected completion date of 2039, the developers say.

The company attributed the drop in land deals last year to the “timing of development and sale of land to homebuilders,” saying it primarily sells “superpad” sites in Summerlin, which are about 20 acres each, and revenue “in a given period can be significantly impacted by one or two closings.”

Superpads are raw-land sites that get developed by the buyers, and in Summerlin, land buyers mostly are homebuilders.

Overall, residential land comprised 198.4 acres, or 91 percent, of the total amount sold last year.

Dallas-based Howard Hughes disclosed the sales figures in corporate reports filed Monday, including its latest earnings report.

The company, which also is developing projects in Texas, Hawaii and New York, booked $25.9 million in fourth-quarter profit, down 19 percent from the same period in 2014. But it earned $126.7 million in profit for the year, compared to a loss of $23.5 million in 2014.

Other highlights:

• Howard Hughes and Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Discovery Land Co., which formed a joint venture to develop a 270-home, golf-course community in Summerlin known as the Summit, have signed contracts to sell about $120 million worth of land in the 555-acre luxury project. Lot prices are expected to range from $2 million to $8 million, and land sales are expected to start closing by the end of March.

• Constellation, the 124-unit luxury apartment complex it’s developing with Las Vegas-based Calida Group, is expected to be finished by the end of 2016.

• 89.2 percent of the retail space in Downtown Summerlin — the once-mothballed, 106-acre shopping and office complex that opened in fall 2014 — had been leased by the end of 2015, and 77.2 percent was occupied.

• 69.3 percent of the space in Downtown Summerlin’s nine-story office building, known as One Summerlin, had been leased by the end of 2015, and 44.2 percent was occupied.