Las Vegas home prices jump 27 percent in January

Home prices in Las Vegas jumped 27.1 percent in January compared with January 2012, picking up where they left off last year as the inventory of homes available for sale remains tight, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Friday.

The median price for 2,284 single-family homes sold in January was $150,000, up from $118,000 in the same month a year ago.

Listing agents are raising prices the very next week on homes that haven’t sold, which doesn’t make sense, said Dave Tina, president of the Realtors association.

“My belief is that some sellers are seeing this heavy appreciation and going too high,” he said. “They’ve got to get back to reality.”

Tina said first-time home buyers are losing out to investors in Las Vegas because Fannie Mae is adjusting appraisals higher. Fannie Mae feels Las Vegas homes are being undervalued by appraisers and Realtors, he said.

“The bank does an appraisal, but then Fannie Mae hires their own appraiser and they’re the ones screwing it up,” Tina said. “We had a condo sold for $43,000 and they said they won’t take a nickel less than $72,000. The buyer backed out and now the deal’s dead. It’s ridiculous.”

Those homes eventually go to foreclosure and are sold to investors in a bulk sale, which means less money for Fannie Mae, Tina said. The homeowner who couldn’t do a short sale loses the home to foreclosure because of a “bogus appraisal,” he said.

Existing home sales decreased 22.1 percent from a year ago because of limited choices on the market, Tina said. That’s helped bolster new-home sales, which increased 42 percent in 2012.

“Everybody wants pretty,” Tina said. “It could be a $50,000 condo or a $100,000 house. Everyone wants a beautiful floor, granite counters. Why are flippers doing so well? It has new granite and new paint and it’s pretty. The ones that aren’t selling in this market aren’t pretty. They’re dogs.”

The Multiple Listing Service shows 14,433 homes for sale, but only 3,334 are available without pending or contingent offers.

Assembly Bill 284, the robo-signing law that took effect in October 2011, continues to delay the foreclosure process and keep inventory at low levels. Realtors anticipate the law will be amended at the Nevada Legislature that began this week. Of particular concern is the requirement that bank employees have “personal knowledge” of who owns the original promissory note when signing documents.

Notice of default filings began increasing slightly toward the end of last year, indicating that more real estate-owned properties may be coming to market in the near future, Tim Kelly Kiernan of ReMax Extreme said.

“Here is a crazy statistic,” he said. “We have over 13,000 total properties in pending status, and 10,000 of them are short sales.”

Kiernan counted 993 short sales in January, or lender-approved sales for less than the principal mortgage balance, nearly three times the 345 REO sales.

Short sales accounted for 36.2 percent of January’s home sales, down from a record 45.8 percent in December, while bank-owned sales bounced back up to 12.5 percent, according to GLVAR.

Also, 56.1 percent of the homes were purchased with cash, up from 55.2 percent in December.

Realtors posted 2,838 new listings in January at a median asking price of $160,963, up nearly 24 percent from a year ago.

The Realtors association reported 537 condo and townhome sales in January at a median price of $75,000, up 36.4 percent from a year ago.

Realtors statistics are based on transactions from the MLS, and do not necessarily include homes sold by builders, for-sale by owner and other transactions not involving a Realtor.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

<table><br><tbody cellpadding=&rdquo;3&rdquo;><br><tr><td colspan=&rdquo;3&rdquo;><b>LAS VEGAS SINGLE-FAMILY HOME SALES</b></td></tr><br><tr><td></td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>January</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>Change from<br>a year ago</td></tr><br><tr><td>MLS inventory</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>14,433</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>-24.7 percent</td></tr><br><tr><td>Available without offer</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>3,334</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>-58.3 percent</td></tr><br><tr><td>New listings</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>2,838</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>-29.1 percent</td></tr><br><tr><td>Units sold</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>2,284</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>-22.1 percent</td></tr><br><tr><td>Median price</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>$150,000</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>27.1 percent</td></tr><br><tr><td>Total sales volume</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>$431.9 million</td><td align=&rdquo;right&rdquo;>2.9 percent</td></tr><br><tr><td colspan=&rdquo;3&rdquo;>SOURCE: Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors</td></tr><br></tbody><br></table>