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Attainable housing essential for city’s future

Two years ago, while living in Henderson, I set up Zillow alerts for the 89005 zip code. That’s actually how I found my current home; Zillow sent me an email with a newly listed house in Boulder City and my husband and I set up a showing for the next day. But I digress.

I never turned off those Zillow alerts, so I still get an email every time a home in Boulder City goes up for sale. I also get an alert every time there is a price reduction, which seems to happen more and more frequently. And I’m not surprised. The houses that are for sale right now are, frankly, listed far too high.

We’re coming off a hot market and I get that. But looking at Zillow right now, I’m seeing the majority of the houses listed in the $400,000 to $500,000 range. These are 50-year-old houses with pink tile bathrooms and dirt lot backyards. These houses should not be commanding these prices.

And with the recent price drops and cooling of the housing market, it looks like the owners may be realizing this.

Now, I’m not here to shame people for trying to maximize their profits on their home sales. We sold our house in Henderson last year and I’m honestly still surprised at how much it sold for, and obviously that sale benefited our family and allowed us to move to Boulder City. I’m simply saying that I’m stunned the housing market managed to reach such an unsustainable point.

At random, I selected a house currently for sale in my neighborhood. It’s listed for $479,900. It’s small for a single-family home by today’s standards, but definitely workable for a family of three or four. The estimated mortgage is $2,911 per month, which works out to $34,932 per year. The rule of thumb is that you should spend at most 30 percent of your income on housing, so to abide by that rule, the buyers of this home should have a household income of $116,440 or more.

The average household income for Boulder City is $62,792. For both Clark County and Nevada it hovers in the $61,000 to $63,000 range. As you can see, the math just isn’t going to work. Most households in the area make about half of what they would need in order to comfortably afford this modest single family home.

For all the complaints I’ve heard about people moving here from California, how can we be surprised when the housing costs are far outside the reach of the average Nevada family? It requires a lot of luck, wealth or a combination of both to afford a home here.

A few months back I wrote a piece that was my love letter to Boulder City. In response, I had people ask me why others my age don’t see the town in a similar light and want to move here. They do! But unfortunately many young families can’t afford to move here, regardless of desire.

The high cost of housing is currently a nationwide issue, not necessarily specific to Boulder City, but the effects will hurt us just the same.

In a recent edition of the Boulder City Review, an article discussed that city planners were considering how tiny homes might fit into the future of Boulder City. I was disappointed to see the article end with, “despite having to make accommodations for tiny homes, (Community Development Director Michael) Mays said there is currently no interest or plans for any to be established in Boulder City.” I think the town should have great interest in tiny homes as a lower-cost housing solution that could attract new residents who do not currently have the wealth required to afford a single-family home here.

A 20-something couple who is able to save money while living in their tiny home could become a 30-something couple with young children who can buy a single-family home later down the road. And while I agree that controlled growth helps Boulder City remain the quaint town that we know and love, these young families are necessary if the community wants to continue to flourish in the coming decades.

Making Boulder City an attainable place for the average Nevada family to buy a home should be a priority on the town’s radar.

The opinions expressed above belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of the Boulder City Review. They have been edited solely for grammar, spelling and style, and have not been checked for accuracy of the viewpoints.

Kayla Kirk is a lactation educator in the Las Vegas Valley. She holds degrees in psychology and perinatal education from Boston University and the University of California, San Diego. You can find her hanging out in the local coffee shops or hiking with her husband and two children.

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