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The Nevada Independent

OPINION: Nevada needs more housing, not irrelevant finger-pointing

David Howard
David Howard

A recent opinion piece in The Nevada Independent entitled “It’s time to take back our housing from Wall Street” ignores the role of housing supply and its impact on affordability, makes the startling claim that more investment in housing is somehow not a positive and presents a view of homeownership that is almost completely at odds with the reality of today’s housing market in Las Vegas, throughout Nevada and across the country.

The commentary repeatedly cites the role of “private equity” and “institutional investors” as a factor negatively impacting homeownership in Las Vegas and throughout the state, yet provides little factual context to support these claims. First and foremost, it neglects to point out that homeownership rates in Nevada, Clark County and the Las Vegas area are all higher today than they were five years ago. And in a new report from H&R Block, “Outlook on American Life”, Las Vegas was ranked as the nation’s second most popular destination for middle-class families. 

There are several other significant points that are questionable. For starters, large providers of single-family rental homes own just 0.4 percent of the housing in America, and of all the rental housing in the U.S., large providers own just 1 percent. In the Las Vegas area, the percentage of the housing market owned by large providers is slightly higher than the national average, but at slightly less than 2 percent, is a far cry from the exaggerated claims about the outsized role of large single-family rental home providers. 

Regarding the claims concerning Black and Hispanic homeownership, an Urban Institute analysis of the top 20 areas in the U.S. — including Las Vegas — published this spring, concluded, “institutional single-family operators” are not disproportionately concentrated in nonwhite areas.

Finally, in portraying housing “investors” as some kind of ever-present force in the housing market, the widely reported fact that investor purchases have fallen by unprecedented amounts over the past year is not included. In fact, in 2023, investor purchases in Las Vegas were below 2022 levels. Yet, according to the Case Shiller Index, home prices increased in the metro area by more than 4 percent. It hardly seems reasonable to assume investors can be responsible for rising home prices when they are purchasing fewer properties.

In Nevada, and many other states across the country, the primary challenge facing the housing market is simple: supply. The supply of housing in the U.S. has not kept pace with demand — for years. As a result, America faces a housing deficit of between 4 million and 6 million homes.

A recent study of housing supply conditions by the Bipartisan Policy Center reveals the extent of the problem in Nevada, where the statewide population has increased by nearly 434,000 residents during the past decade, while the housing stock has grown by only about 131,000 homes.

The simple fact is, America — and Nevada — needs more housing of all kinds to support families no matter where they are in life. Every person, no matter their income, background or profession, deserves access to quality neighborhoods, and single-family rental homes provide access to the kinds of housing many Americans need. Housing, put simply, should not be viewed as zero sum. We need more supply, of all types, to help ensure we meet the needs of today — and tomorrow. And single-family rental homes are an important component for working families in any housing market. 

David Howard is the chief executive officer of the National Rental Home Council.

The Nevada Independent welcomes informed, cogent rebuttals to opinion pieces such as this. Send them to [email protected].


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