Homebuilders in Las Vegas recorded 510 new-home sales in February, about the same as in January, with a median price of $234,467, Home Builders Research reported Thursday.
New-home sales are up 94 percent for the first two months of the year compared with 2012, and more than double the total from 2011.
Year-to-year comparisons will continue to be impressive moving forward, said Dennis Smith, president of Home Builders Research.
“It’s not a surprise that new-home recorded sales are stronger than the past two years as we are comparing the present results with the bottom of the cycle,” the housing analyst said.
The new-home median price rose 21 percent, or $40,567, from a year ago. Smith expects large increases in year-to-year prices to be the norm for most of 2013 because of the lack of resale inventory and rising land prices.
“I’m not saying they’re going up forever, just in the next year,” he said. “It’s good for people who own homes, but not for those looking to buy before prices go up.”
Smith said Las Vegas-based American West Homes has been most impressive with 70 net sales in February, following 74 sales in January.
“They’re in bankruptcy and wiped out some of their debt. They’re selling a lot of houses and they’re not giving away anything,” he said.
DR Horton reported 67 net sales in February, KB Home 62 and Richmond American 61.
Home Builders Research counted 3,433 resale closings in February, a 13.2 percent decrease from the same month a year ago. The median resale price rose 31 percent to $137,500.
Bryan Lebo of ReMax Benchmark Realty said resale prices will rise by another 10 percent this year because there’s no inventory. Even if Assembly Bill 284 — Nevada’s robo-signing law — is amended in the Legislature, it’ll be a full year before inventory returns.
“The only reason prices shot through the roof is because the government essentially incentivized banks to cease foreclosures with the National Mortgage Settlement and specifically in Nevada because of (Assembly Bill) 284,” Lebo said.
“In my opinion, it was complete manipulation of the real estate market. In either case, it happened and now we’re dealing with it. We all know every property has multiple offers and bidding wars on it. With offers I’m seeing out there, I don’t see how it (median price) won’t rise 10 percent or more,” he said.
With home prices rising so quickly and inventory depleted, there’s talk about the creation of another housing “bubble” in Las Vegas.
“Truth is, prices had sunk so low, it was simply absurd,” Lebo said.
New-home building permits, an indication of housing construction starts, totaled 498 in February, more than double the 236 permits in the same month a year ago, Home Builders Research reported.
Permits would probably be a couple hundred more a month if not for the lack of available finished lots, Smith said.
“The new-home segment has definitely benefited from the calamities being experienced in the existing home market,” he said. “This is why you won’t hear much complaining from the home builders about the issues that brought the inventory of resale listings to their current historic low level.”
Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.