David C. Henley: Number of homes for sale here decreasing | NevadaAppeal.com

David C. Henley: Number of homes for sale here decreasing

I'm always reminded of the proverbial disparity between "apples and oranges" when comparing the vast price differences in high-end residential real estate sales in Northwest Nevada.

Just a few weeks ago, for example, I read in the Wall Street Journal about the recent purchase of an Incline Village estate set on 4,972 acres off Lakeshore Drive which fetched $31.1 million.

Once owned by Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn, the estate known as "Old Forge" features 210 feet of lake frontage, a private sandy beach, boathouse with pier and boat hoist and a 12,661 square-foot main house with four bedrooms, five full baths and three half-baths.

There also is a gym, theater, four-car garage and three-bedroom, three full-bath guest house on the property, which initially was listed for $45 million. Wynn purchased it for $6.5 million in in 1993 and sold it in 1998 for $17 million. The new owners (the husband is a medical doctor and his wife the founder of a high-tech company) also own a mansion in Los Altos Hills on the San Francisco peninsula.

Other nearby residents have been financier Michael Milkin and Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, who sold his property for $20.35 million four years ago.

Closer to home, however, asking prices for upper-end homes are far, far less.

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The most expensive house currently for sale in Fallon and Churchill County lists for $525,000, according to Bob Getto, co-owner of Ferguson and Getto Realtors, a trustee of the 3,100-member Northern Nevada Regional Multiple Listing Service and a director of the National Assn. of Realtors.

Located on Santa Fe Drive along the Carson River and east of the Sheckler Cut-Off, the 3,743 square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath house is close to another expensive house on the same street which is 2,752 square feet, has five bedrooms and two baths and has been listing for $339,900.

Not far from these two houses is one on Copperwood Drive that is listing for $418,500. It has three bedrooms, three full baths and is 2,325 square feet. North of Fallon and east of Lovelock Highway lies another pricey home for sale. On Steven Drive, the asking price for this four-bedroom, three full-bath 2,719 square-foot house has been $335,000.

Last year in this column, I wrote that Getto had told me the most expensive house for sale in the county listed for $368,000.

Currently, there are 92 houses on the market in Fallon and Churchill County, but 53 of them are listed as "pending sales," Getto added. "It's a sellers market. There are few homes to choose from," he said.

Of these 92 homes (I include those listed as "pending sales"), the lowest asking price is $129,000. But from there, the prices rapidly rise, with most of them in the mid-to-high $200,000 range and clustering around $275,000. Nearly all have three bedrooms and two full baths and most of their sizes are about 1,600 square feet. Many are resale tract homes.

More houses could be sold locally as there presently is a "glut" of finished city and county residential lots on paved streets with electrical, gas, water and sewer hookups in place, Getto said. But the problem is that the owners of these lots are not building houses on them because construction costs are higher than the houses could be sold for.

House prices here are lower than those in Fernley, Sparks and Reno, he said, because these cities are near the Tesla battery plant and the rapidly-expanding Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center that lie off Interstate 80 about 15 miles east of Reno.

Employees at these locations are generally higher paid than those who have jobs in Churchill County, and most of the latter cannot afford high home prices. Also, there are few if any Tesla and Tahoe-Reno Industrial Park employees living in Fallon and Churchill County "because the commuting time is getting longer and longer," Getto said.

But because house prices here are relatively low, he forsees that some people who are being "pushed out" of Fernley, Sparks and Reno because of escalating home prices in those cities may begin considering the Fallon area as their future home.

Getto believes that the price of homes here may begin rising about four and a half percent a year in the near future. If this comes about, perhaps the owners of those finished "ready-to-go" vacant residential lots may then consider constructing homes on them to accommodate those forced out of Fernley, Sparks and Reno, he stated. But the owners of these vacant lots would seriously consider building on them only if they believed that the prices they set for them are higher than the construction costs and, of course, that those houses would sell, he said.

David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News & Fallon Eagle-Standard.