News Column

Median Home Prices See Largest Year-over-year Increase in 9 Years

Feb. 8, 2013

Eli Segall, Las Vegas Sun

Southern Nevada's housing market began 2013 with mixed results last month, with rising prices, shrinking inventory and an uptick in nondistressed sales.

The median price of single-family homes sold in the region in January was $150,000, an increase of only 0.7 percent from December. But it was up 27 percent from a year ago, marking the largest year-over-year jump since at least 2004, according to a report out Friday from the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

For the first time in years, "traditional" sales between a buyer and seller, with no lender calling the shots, accounted for more than half of all deals last month. Short sales, in which lenders agree to sell a home for less than what's owed on the mortgage, accounted for 36 percent of the deals in January. That was down from December's record-setting 46 percent but still up from 28 percent a year ago.

Additionally, sales of bank-owned homes comprised 12.5 percent of the month's deals. That was up from 9.5 percent in December but down from 45.5 percent last January.

A total of 2,821 previously owned homes, condos and townhouses were sold last month, down 21 percent from a year ago. Also, 14,433 single-family homes were up for sale on the GLVAR's listing service as of Jan. 31, down 25 percent from a year earlier, the association said.

GLVAR President Dave Tina said in the report that rising prices are "generally good news for homeowners, sellers and most people who live here," but he added the region has only about a six-week supply of available homes for sale.

"That's not enough to meet demand," he said. "This lack of inventory continues to be one of our biggest challenges."

Tina also said that despite the dip in short-sales volume, he expects those deals to continue accounting for "a sizable percentage" of local sales this year before tapering off in 2014.

As part of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations, Congress last month agreed to extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act by one year, to Dec. 31, 2013, Tina noted. But starting next year, sellers will have one less incentive to do a short sale: After the deal goes through, the amount of money they still owed the bank can get taxed as income.

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

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