The Las Vegas lesson for Australian property

By Leith van Onselen

The above YouTube video shows spectacular satellite footage of Las Vegas’ rapid urban growth since the early-1970s.

Las Vegas is home to one of the world’s largest housing bubbles/busts, whereby house prices rose sharply in the decade to 2007 before plunging more than 60% in the years following (see below chart).

Many commentators attribute Las Vegas’ huge house price crash to a combination of lax lending and a significant oversupply of homes. While the former is true, the claim that Las Vegas built too many homes in the lead-up to the crash is highly debatable.

For starters, Nevada (home of Las Vegas) was the fastest growing state in the United States, experiencing population growth of 160% between 1987 and 2010. This compares to 37% growth in Australia’s population over the same period (see below chart).

Contrary to popular belief, the rate of new home construction, when compared against population growth, was also lower in Las Vegas than Australia in the 23 years to 2010 (see below chart).


Like Australia, land constraints and ‘housing shortage’ arguments were present in the Las Vegas bubble. The federal government Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which owns around 90% of the land in Clark County, which contains the entire Las Vegas urban area, heavily restricted the quantity of land available for development in Las Vegas in an effort to maximise revenues, causing builders and developers to bid-up land price in period auctions to ensure their supply of land for construction (called ‘land banking’).

Whereas the price of land for housing generally sold for $40,000 per acre in the late 1990s, toward the peak of the bubble, average land prices fetched ten times that amount. Obviously, this land price inflation was a principal cause of the house price escalation as well as the sluggish supply response to the rapidly growing population and rising house prices.

An article published in late 2006 in USA Today explains the supply situation in Las Vegas well:

LAS VEGAS — Flying into this desert metropolis is as deceiving as a mirage. From 10,000 feet you see empty land in all directions and swear the pace of suburban sprawl could go on unchecked.

You’d swear no end’s in sight to subdivisions stretching for miles beyond the Strip, enclaves of single-family houses that draw thousands of Californians and other migrants a year.

Look again. The valley that Las Vegas and 1.8 million residents call home is nearly built out. Mountains, national parks, military bases, an Indian community and a critter called the desert tortoise have Sin City hemmed in. At the current building pace in the USA’s fastest-growing major metro area, available acreage will be gone in less than a decade, developers and real estate analysts say.

Yet growth pressure and housing demand won’t abate. Greater Las Vegas will add 1 million residents in the next 10 years, state estimates say, and hit 3 million by 2020.

“You hear anywhere from a seven to 10 years supply at our growth rates and the valley’s full,” says developer Kenneth Smith of Glen, Smith and Glen…

A scarcity of land — or just as important, says Hal Rothman, a University of Nevada-Las Vegas history professor, the perception that it’s scarce — is driving prices skyward. “The result was a rush,” he says. “The situation is making a new valley around us, one that will be more crowded and expensive.”

Developers who 15 years ago paid less than $40,000 an acre are paying more than $300,000 today. In an auction of public land that went on the market last year, a developer paid $639 million for 2,655 acres…

Developers are leapfrogging over BLM land with plans for big projects, such as 42,000-acre Coyote Springs 50 miles north of here. That’s “drive until you qualify” territory for home buyers seeking affordable mortgages. But costs of building roads, sewers and utilities “are incredible,” says Steve Bottfeld, senior analyst of Marketing Solutions, a local research firm. “Don’t look for it to happen in 10 years”…

Developers don’t expect land prices to fall. They’re packing houses in traditional subdivisions so close together neighbors can practically shake hands out their windows. Economics are moving developers toward a slow embrace of trends familiar elsewhere…

The Las Vegas experience is a salutary lesson for those mounting the argument that Australia’s housing shortage and land supply constraints will prevent home prices from falling. Bigger house price booms caused by easy credit meeting restricted supply inevitably increases the risk of price volatility on the upside and down.

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Comments

  1. Its interesting to see the similarities Australia has with the likes of Vegas, Spain and Ireland. Yet we still stick our heads in the sand as if its not an issue.

  2. Whilst I see the point you are trying to make, I dont think it is helpful comparing a single city to a whole country. Basides, Vegas is built pretty much on a single industry, namely gambling, with secondary being tourism. the migrants that come in are aslo transitory, compared to those migrating to Australia.

    • Basides, Vegas is built pretty much on a single industry,

      Australia its very best to follow suite, by hollowing out every industry outside of mining.

      namely gambling, with secondary being tourism. the migrants that come in are aslo transitory, compared to those migrating to Australia.

      What makes you qualified to make such an assertion?

      Folloiwing the model in the UK and the U.S.A, many Indians and Chinese can be assumed to not view this as a permanent migration, just an economic networking diaspora.

      The Bangalore situation, which I am recently familiar with, was about well to do Indians going to the U.S. the build networks and acquire skills. Once they developed the trade channels between the U.S. and India, they tended to return to India to build their own enterprises.

      You could assume large numbers of Chinese and Indians acquiring Australian PR/citizenship as some safety net, but to view that their self interest, and the Australian national interest as aligned may be a bit far fetched.

      Recent European migrants are already departing, even this board has a Dutch migrant stating only European opportuninity prevents him from returning at this point in time.

      Many young Australians are also awaiting opportunity to leave. I count myself as one of them, and announced to my father over christmas that it would be concerning for all of us if a Texan opportunity arose, that would be a closec chapter.

      My children would be raised as Americans, and I wouldn’t leave my children. When he asked me if my children would perhaps take a keen interest in visiting Australia often, I replied “How many Donnelley’s went back to Ireland?”. He knew what I meant.

      This housing bubble is an epic social distortion. The case of ‘freeters’ in Japan shows us the effects of this type of social dislocation.

      If you’re not aware that there is a bubble and causing unparalleled financial hardship on young people aspiring the enter the housing market, it really is obscene.

      Cheap housing tends to be a selling point for quality of life in countries competing for skilled labour.

      We’ve done exactly the opposite.

      We now have other countries selling to us that they can offer a better quality of life.

      Enjoy your retirement boomers.

      • Gah RP, now I have blues after reading your post. I came here from the US over a year ago (albeit for a better opportunity).

      • I think you miss my point. I agree with what UE is getting at, but comparing it with Vegas may not be a strong argument.

        I am a migrant myself, and know a lot more that have come here for very valid reasons. No, its not a safety net and like many others before me, I call Australia home, and I am proud of it. BTW, networking diaspora create business opportunities which in turn create jobs.

        I agree with you that housing has caused some distortion in this country as a result of cheap credit, and as UE is trying to point out here, not a result of migration or supply issue (UE correct my understanding if I am wrong).

        Do I want a housing market crash? Absolutely not! But unfortunately, I don’t have a solution either on how a bubble (YES! I believe it is a bubble!) can be deflated slowly, as history is only littered with huge pops.

      • I think you miss my point. I agree with what UE is getting at, but comparing it with Vegas may not be a strong argument.

        I am aware of your point. I would feel it is not a strong point.

        Property doesn’t bubble because of population growth. You may have a short term price spike, but for that shortage premium to remain there forever means you have to have a permanent, structural under-supply.

        Property doesn’t bubble because of low interest rates, because the misallocation of capital into a non-productive asset class ruins the economy in the long run.

        Property bubbles from planning processes making the supply response illiquid, while concurrent lending practices enable excess demand. That’s it.

        Sentiment may drive the marginal rates of supply and demand, but the two areas I mentioned above are the causes.

        UE’s example is a prima facie case study on those two factors leading to a housing bubble. That is why that example is valid in Australia.

        Not the dominant industry sectors, they are irrelevant.

        Not the nature of migratory flows, they are irrelevant.

        I am a migrant myself, and know a lot more that have come here for very valid reasons. No, its not a safety net and like many others before me, I call Australia home,

        I don’t know your example, but your command of the English language would have me assume you come from a western country at the very least. You would not really seek a safety net.

        However migrants froms less robust countries, in terms of political transparency, security of resources, etc may.

        My wife is(was) Malaysian of Indian heritage. I have dozens of friends from India. Some do view a permanent relocation. But many aspire to create an enterprise here than can be serviced from India, and do like the prospect of having Australia to call upon if the SHTF in India .

        The two Chinese nationals who were my flatmates in Uni felt the same, as did many of their friends I met.

        I made example of their interests in my previous post because they are the 3rd & 4th highest immigrant groups in Australia.

        and I am proud of it. BTW, networking diaspora create business opportunities which in turn create jobs.

        Yup. So does comparitive advantage and we don’t have a lot of it anymore.

        I agree with you that housing has caused some distortion in this country as a result of cheap credit, and as UE is trying to point out here, not a result of migration or supply issue (UE correct my understanding if I am wrong).

        Actually UE has always pointed out supply response is the primary factor, even as much as I, or particuarly Cameron Murray (Rumplestatskin) disagree.

        Do I want a housing market crash? Absolutely not! But unfortunately, I don’t have a solution either on how a bubble (YES! I believe it is a bubble!) can be deflated slowly, as history is only littered with huge pops.

        History shows price can only be reformed by a massive crash.

        The supply chain is too vast.

        During the Tulip bubble, where tulips sold for 3 years wages… let us make it $210,000 in todays terms as an example, it wasn’t a case of the seedling supplier selling it for $0.05, then the wholesaler selling it for $1.80, only to watch the tretailer flog it off for $209,000+ profit. They all took cuts.

        The supply chain for housing is longer, with many fingers in the pie. They will not all deflat their extraordinary income atthe same rate, they will game each other hoping another supply chain party will lose more.

        Hence it will most likely crash due to inertia in activity. No housing ubble has ever escaped NOT crashing.

        That is our fate.

      • “Property bubbles from planning processes making the supply response illiquid, while concurrent lending practices enable excess demand.”

        I like that description. It very neatly sums up the process UE is talking about.

      • I actually believe that supply response and credit are equal (self-reinforcing) factors. I just tend to focus more on the supply-side because it is not as well understood and also because analysts wrongly assume that tight supply is a one-way bet (i.e. prices will only rise and won’t fall due to ‘shortages’).

      • And I am the uber skeptic that credit has much at all to do with it.
        There have been plenty of phases in housing market history where credit was very easy but house prices did not rise at all, due to supply response.
        I also hold that even IF credit was restrained, house prices would inflate if land supply was rationed. There are obvious reasons why we have very little data for any market of this kind, because politicians tend to lean on lending institutions to make home ownership easier. And if the finance sector colluded to withhold credit so as to repsonsibly contain a house price bubble, they would certainly be prosecuted for anti-competitive behaviour. So I think “credit” is the ultimate red herring in this issue.
        South Korea is the only example we have of a market where house prices bubbled dramatically after land use controls were introduced, and mortgage credit was ridiculously TIGHT. Young people desperately tried to save most of the purchase price of their 1st home as they always had, and the target always rose faster in price than they could save money, with median multiples topping out at around 16.

      • South Korean bubble academic analysis:

        Edwin Mills and Kyung-Hwan Kim,

        “Government Policies to Control the Growth and Decentralization of Large Urban Areas: International Experience and Implications for Korea” (1998)

        http://hompi.sogang.ac.kr/kyungkim/freeboard/papers/government%20policies%20to%20control%20the%20growth%20and%20decentralization%20of%20large%20urban%20areas,%20international%20experience%20and%20implications%20for%20korea.pdf

        SON and KIM (1998) “Analysis of Urban Land Shortages: The Case of Korean Cities”

        http://hompi.sogang.ac.kr/kyungkim/freeboard/papers/An%20analysis%20of%20urban%20land%20shortages%28JUE%29.pdf

        KIM (1993) “Housing Prices, Affordability and Government Policy In Korea”

        http://www.springerlink.com/content/q588721h88413u6j/

        Hannah, Kim and Mills (1993): “Land Use Controls and Housing Prices in Korea”

        http://usj.sagepub.com/content/30/1/147.full.pdf

        GREEN, MALPEZZI and VANDELL,

        ” Urban Regulations and the Price of Land and Housing in Korea” (1993)

        http://ideas.repec.org/p/wop/wisule/93-01.html

      • And I am the uber skeptic that credit has much at all to do with it.

        There have been plenty of phases in housing market history where credit was very easy but house prices did not rise at all, due to supply response.

        No doubts in this scenario. With very few restrictions, the sought after rent would be crippled with competition. I fully agree with this, and with Claw’s idea below, without boomers chasing the government gifted extraordinary capital gain, they would not have been demanding property in the first place.

        I also hold that even IF credit was restrained, house prices would inflate if land supply was rationed. There are obvious reasons why we have very little data for any market of this kind, because politicians tend to lean on lending institutions to make home ownership easier. And if the finance sector colluded to withhold credit so as to repsonsibly contain a house price bubble, they would certainly be prosecuted for anti-competitive behaviour. So I think “credit” is the ultimate red herring in this issue.

        I would debate this, though there is too scarce data to back it, so it can only be intuitive thought.

        The bankers can easily argue about not giving out loans.

        Housing is a good worth 3.x times income. Its fair value in today’s terms is ~$240,000.

        How a banker can justify giving a $350,000 loan to buy a $240,000 good is hard to fathom. When they are loaning out other peoples money, money they are entrusted as agents to serve in the depositors best interest.

        South Korea is the only example we have of a market where house prices bubbled dramatically after land use controls were introduced, and mortgage credit was ridiculously TIGHT. Young people desperately tried to save most of the purchase price of their 1st home as they always had, and the target always rose faster in price than they could save money, with median multiples topping out at around 16.

        With a single event, scarce data and personal ignorance, it is hard for me to reach conclusions here.

        I know South Korean wage policy ensured a *ahem* ‘high growth’ zone.

        Many kids may have been enabled by parents’ savings, but again that would only be speculations.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Many young Australians are also awaiting opportunity to leave. I count myself as one of them, and announced to my father over christmas that it would be concerning for all of us if a Texan opportunity arose, that would be a closec chapter.

        Seconded, though my wife and I prefer Switzerland as we find many aspects of American culture an enormous turn-off. Can’t argue with the relative quality of life, however (at least assuming you’re middle-middle class and upwards).

        I did leave some mates behind in the US just getting into a tech/healthcare startup when we came back to Australia last year, though, so there’s a good chance they’ll be looking for my skillset sometime in the next few years. It’s nice to have options. 🙂

        If the Liberals win the next election, that might just be the trigger to set off our relocation.

  3. It is equal parts scary and awesome how easily that first index of property prices lines up to the stereotypical “Phases of an Asset Bubble” graph.

    • Would be interesting to get a list of newspaper headlines from Vagas to see how they line up to the emotions of the phases of a bubble

  4. I agree with your analysis and sentiment UE, but here in Tasmania the property industry is in DENIAL, as new houses that come on the market in Kingborough (south of Hobart 15 kilometres) are actually a joke I.E. Houses that were about 170K in 2000 are now being put on for over 600K to 700K in 2012, only 12 years on, a tripling in less than 12 years! But with unemployment at over 7% and rising I do not know how long this can last. I did speak to a realtor who reckons that we can muddle through this year in Tasmania, then it is back to the 10% growth per anum in 2013 AND he really was serious!

    • Tassie is in the most serious trouble out of all the states as I understand it; economic growth in reverse and population declining.

      A lot of people here in Melbourne have their heads in sand too about property price growth. I heard some people talking the other day about 30 percent growth in two years and laughed to myself – where is the money going to come from to finance this kind of growth ? Mars ? What kind of a city will we be living in when the average house price is 700 grand?

      Melbourne is (as Bob Carr put it eloquently about Sydney some years ago) FULL. This morning I tried to get on a train at Hawksburn station and couldn’t – the first two were so crowded no more people could physically fit on so I was late for work (again)… this happens all the time despite being told the opposite by the government (“We are improving services”). Where is the money going to come from to pay for increased services? How are we going to cope with the traffic? Where are the jobs going to come from? All this hyper-growth crap has to stop, we can’t possibly keep crowding people into a city of 4 million plus and expect that the market will take care of everything.

      • when it comes to public transport one should never talk about the market since it doesn’t exist its all publicly subsidised. If they took those subsidies away I bet you could get a seat lol

  5. Clearly there are valuable lessons to learn from this saga. Sadly the shortage-deniers, Ireland-followers and pure-bubble theorists will not try to learn anything. They made up their mind years ago based on simplistic assumptions and now have their ego tied to it and stubbornly refuse to change.
    One lesson to learn is that perhaps fewer houses would have been built if the “planners” had released abundant land, or had targetted a low price instead of trying to protect a tortoise. Perhaps their anti-sprawl plan back-fired. Mav could link to some statistics to prove this.
    Another interesting fact is that buyers in Vegas only suffered from a shortage for less than 10 years. Whereas Sydney young have been suffering from a shortage for over 20 years. This is long enough to cause serious damage to one’ life prospects, fertility etc.

    • “shortage-deniers”

      you dont get the point of this post do you?

      “Whereas Sydney young have been suffering from a shortage for over 20 years”

      this is the funny part. Apparently Sydney has the greatest shortage, and has done for decades. Yet real prices have gone nowhere since 2003.

      “This is long enough to cause serious damage to one’ life prospects, fertility etc.”

      Are you going to claim it causes climate change as well?

      • Poid. Your comment is typical of shortage-deniers. You made up your mind now you will use any weapon against your opponent.
        I do get the point of the article. Shortage does not prevent price from falling. Anyone who has read and understood my previous posts already knows this.

      • Typical denier. Original weapon tharted so asks pointless questions to waste time. Next step – pithy quip.

      • “Shortage does not prevent price from falling.”

        In this case i expect we wont see you arguing that we are not in a bubble due to shortages.

        Shortages dont matter.

        Thanks.

      • Claw I hope you don’t brand me a “shortage denier” but any chance of getting some links to some info backing up the supply shortage argument? Dismissing someones points on the basis of being a “shortage denier” is a pretty weak argument. It is also easy to return and say the same about being a “shortage supporter”.

    • Vegas only suffered from a shortage for less than 10 years

      Claw, Vegas never had a shortage. I lived there between 2004-2007, and I know what I’m talking about. There were large, empty subdivisions all around Vegas. I visited several and walked through many empty houses. I rented in a suburb where most of the houses in my street were unoccupied.

      • You could be right Revert2Mean depending on what you mean by shortage (no definition – no links to statistical proof). Clearly there was a shortage of housing to buy at a fair price. What about renting? Could a young family avoid suffering by renting?
        What percentage of an ordinary wage did it take to rent an ordinary house in Vegas during the boom? How does that compare to $400 per week for a Sydney dogbox far from work?

      • Cheaper to rent there than here. I paid USD 250 / week for a 2bed 2bath apartment that came with fridge, washing machine, garage, communal pool and onsite manager.

      • Very interesting. So at that time rents were not indicating there was a shortage at all.
        Young families priced-out of buying a house could rent at a reasonable price (if what you say is true).
        If so, it is reasonable to say that Vegas never had a shortage during their boom (unlike Sydney).

    • What is your definition of shortage?

      Is it ‘structural undersupply’, which I think most of us would view as shortage.

      Reading this bit…

      ” perhaps fewer houses would have been built if the “planners” had released abundant land”

      which is a premise I have believed in.

      Your post above infers the failure of the market to bring about a fair clearance price for a supply/demand equilibrium, even though the quantity of product brought to market is abundant.

      Thus shortage can be expressed as ‘shortage of affordable (fair priced) housing’.

      • Not exactly. Taking Vegas, it appears that quantity is now sufficient, however it was insufficient for a period (shortage). The slow and inadequate supply response to higher demand was to blame. Planners deserve much blame as do reckless lenders and zealous borrowers.

      • “it appears that quantity is now sufficient, however it was insufficient for a period (shortage).”

        Now apply that to here. The point is that the apparent shortage in Vegas was just that, apparent, and not a genuine supply shortage. It was effectively a demand-driven shortage caused by the rising prices and mania than ensued.

        You can apply that lesson here. In looking at apparent shortages is it because there is a genuine shortage of property, or is it because there is a elevated credit-fuelled level of demand (ie a pull forward of demand) that is transitory and collapses once the price rises and mania subside?

        This is my issue with the shortage argument; its not the level of construction at all (hence my amusement at being called a shortage denier). Its the elevated demand that is fuelled by easy credit which collapses when you reach debt saturation.

      • Its the elevated demand that is fuelled by easy credit which collapses when you reach debt saturation.
        That’s a lovely theory. But prices have been high for over 20 years. Would you like Sydney’s young to wait another 20 years for your theory to appear the more plausible?
        How high do rents have to go to indicate to you that perhaps this is not a pure and simple credit bubble and there are severe shortages at play?

    • Claw,

      “…..One lesson to learn is that perhaps fewer houses would have been built if the “planners” had released abundant land, or had targetted a low price instead of trying to protect a tortoise…..”

      You are exactly right here, but this is not quite the same as associating house price bubbles always with a housing SHORTAGE. What happened in Vegas, and Phoenix, and Ireland, and Spain, is that TOO MANY houses got built AT TOO HIGH PRICES, because the “supply” system was like a QUOTA system, and the participants, including the government agencies involved, got blinded by greed into chasing capital gains on more and more land and housing development.

      Many academics have made the mistake of assuming from these examples, that “supply” was so strong, it could not have been distorted by “restrictions”. But it WAS distorted by restrictions, no land came to market without having been “gamed” with the connivance of responsible government agencies (without whose connivance the “gaming” could not have occurred). It is the absence of “gaming” that keeps prices low and stable, rather than the “amount of supply” per se.

  6. Returning to – overshooting – the long-term land price mean is going to be quite an experience for the Boomer generation. The impersonal forces that provided ‘Free Deposits’ for housing upgrades are now issuing ‘Underwater Coupons’ to anyone foolish enough to be long and geared into the Aussie RE market. Their personal balance sheets will suddenly look quite different, and they simply do not have enough working years left to repair their finances.

    The unshakable determination of the MSM and politico-housing complex to maintain citizen ‘confidence’ with deliberately misleading anecdotal narratives will be their ruin.

    Top work, UE. This global, digital age offers analysis and comparison to anyone with the wit to look for it.

    Don’t Buy Now!

    • Swan was on TV last evening talking about the affordability issues in OZ market. He said, “Oh no, we don’t want prices falling too much. What we want is the economy to grow and for people to have jobs and slowly affordability will come under control”….

      Everybody know that this has gotten out of hand. Locally, the expectation is for a slow melt/wages to rise whilst internationally investors expect a bubble burst. From a contrarian standpoint then prices have to rise!!! ….. any contrarians….?

      • I think if housing was a purely sentimental asset (like gold) then potentially, however there are solid arguments (credit supply etc) behind house falls.

        Still being a contrarian has paid off pretty well lately so who knows 😛

      • Swan is a bloody big fool.

        How can the economy grow when we have a bubbly high property prices? The economy is sputtering right now because of high property prices, high retail rents and high consumer debt, etc. Everything is so freaking expensive here. And everyone wants pay for champagne at beer prices. Businesses wants skilled and experienced workers trained at someone else’s expense.

      • Exactly right, high urban land costs are a COST to every part of the urban economy that ACTUALLY PRODUCES ANYTHING.

        The “gains” are all zero sum TRANSFERS of wealth that has had to be created BY sectors to whom the rising land prices are a COST.

        This is the ultimate self-destroying vicious circle. The British economy is a classic illustration.

  7. This is an interesting confluence of (two of my) interests.
    I have ME/CFS.
    We (the world-wide ME/CFS community) just exited a turbulent two years of high-stakes dissension and rancour.
    At the centre of the dispute was findings from research conducted by a private research institute and published in the prestigious journal Science in October 2009.
    The scientists thought they discovered a retrovirus, or evidence of a retrovirus, in the blood of > 50% of the ME/CFS subjects in their trial. The retrovirus was subsequently shown to be a laboratory contaminant (this being the basis of the rancour – “yes it is, no it isn’t [a contaminant]”).
    The private institute is the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI) in Nevada. The Whittemores are very wealthy and Harvey Whittemore was a powerful and very effective lobbyist.
    http://www.newsreview.com/reno/public-power-private-man/content?oid=24231

    By late 2011 the WPI somewhat imploded – the chief scientist was sacked on the spot for insubordination and locked out of WPI premises (however, chief scientist arranged for PhD underling to secretly remove items/records from WPI and pass to her). WPI filed civil and criminal lawsuit against chief scientist for stealing of intellectual property. This is working its way through the courts. As one person wrote on a forum, “You couldn’t think up a story line for a novel with so many bizarre and unexpected twists and turns.”
    Then . . . just when we thought the saga couldn’t possibly get any weirder . . .
    The Whittemore’s business partners filed a lawsuit against the Whittemores, which alleges multiple misdemeanours (subsequently the Whittemores countersued).
    http://www.kolotv.com/home/headlines/Whittemore_Lawsuits_Read_Like_Fiction_138822494.html

    So, after reading this article at MB, I wondered whether the Whittemores were associated with Coyote Springs development. Answer = yes.
    http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/feb/17/whittemore-case-lifts-curtain-political-deals/
    And the lawsuit has opened a can of worms . . .
    http://www.lvrj.com/news/secrecy-surrounds-grand-jury-investigating-lobbyist-whittemore-142683305.html

    So where does money, power and influence fit into the equation of what drives the price of houses/land?

    • Satterley (private company land developer) is in joint venture with Landcorp (govt agency land developer) here in WA in a number of developments. Landcorp JV’s with others too – it should not happen.