News Column

Las Vegas Housing Market is Hot But Buyers Wary

October 9, 2013

By Eli Segall, Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas homeowners are getting greedy.

With real estate prices soaring, many local residents are hoping to cash in and sell their homes for big dollars, in many cases more than they are worth.
Homeowners should dial down their excitement, though.

Buyers increasingly are ignoring overpriced listings while homeowners who figured they'd sell to investors or others willing to pay anything are discovering that nobody's biting.

"They're getting ahead of themselves," Prudential Americana Group broker Jack Woodcock said.

Last month, the valley had 6,330 single-family homes for sale without any offers on them. That's up 13 percent from August and 61 percent from a year ago, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. The number of listings without offers has climbed every month since April, when there were 3,161 houses without offers on the market.

That doesn't mean houses aren't selling.

"Everything that's priced right is selling; that's the trick," said Dave Tina, co-owner of Urban Nest Realty and GLVAR president.

Wall Street investors had been buying cheap homes in bulk to turn into rentals but now are paring down on local purchases because of the rising prices they helped create.

Earlier this year, listings often received a dozen or more bids, many submitted sight unseen by investors. That frenzy has all but stopped, real estate agents say. Listings now get only a few offers, making it tougher for homeowners to find someone who's willing to pay top dollar for a house.

Meanwhile, the improved construction market remains muted compared with Las Vegas' boom years. If developers were building more subdivisions and injecting more competition into the market, local residents might not feel so emboldened to seek high prices for their homes.

"I find myself debating with clients right now over numbers," Hudson Real Estate broker Krystal Sherry said.

The median price of previously owned single-family homes sold last month was $180,000, down 1 percent from August but up 29 percent from September 2012, according to the GLVAR. Last month was the first in almost two years in which prices fell, and September was the first month since February that the year-to-year price increase dipped below 30 percent.

Prices in the valley have been climbing at some of the fastest rates nationally. Despite the upswing, real estate here remains underpriced and ripe for bargains, industry experts say.

Sellers who are fixated on the hot streak, however, think they can get a lot more than what the market will bear, said broker Cokie Booth, owner of BC Real Estate.

Real estate agents often go along. If a client wants to list a house for $275,000 when Booth thinks it is worth only $250,000, for example, Booth will list it at the higher price. She can always lower it if no one shows interest.

"It's real rare when it's the other way around," Booth said.

Analysts said the region's soaring prices were bound to taper off. No city can sustain a skyrocketing market forever, especially Las Vegas, which still has a sluggish economy and, as of July, a 9.7 percent unemployment rate.

"You can only stay hot for so long," RCG Economics principal John Restrepo said.

Original headline: Homeowners hope to cash in big on hot housing market, but buyers aren't biting on overpriced homes

Source: (c)2013 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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