Las Vegas housing ends 2013 the way it started — big annual price gains

The local housing market ended 2013 the way it began — with big annual gains in prices.

Still, there’s fresh evidence that prices are stabilizing, and Realtors said they expect slower, steadier gains in 2014.

The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that single-family resale homes cost a median of $185,000 in December, up 24.2 percent from $149,000 in December 2012. The median among existing condos and townhomes was $96,000, up 26.3 percent from $76,000 a year earlier.

“Local homeowners should be happy with the strong appreciation we’ve seen over the past two years,” said Heidi Kasama, the association’s new president. “We haven’t seen increases like this since the middle part of the last decade. Like most housing experts, I expect to see more stable home prices in 2014.”

That’s because increases have moderated in recent months.

The median single-family home price has hovered between $180,000 and $185,000 since July.

December’s median was up just 1.1 percent from $183,000 in November. Compare that to monthly gains of as much as 6 percent in early 2013.

Prices bottomed out at $118,000 in January 2012, after peaking at $315,000 in June 2006.

December’s numbers also closed out what Kasama called a year of transition from a market dominated by distressed sales to one heavy on traditional closings.

Short sales, when a lender agrees to sell a home for less than what the borrower owes, made up 20.7 percent of the market in December, down from 45.8 percent a year earlier. Bank-owned sales were 8.5 percent of the market, down from 9.5 percent.

Of the 40,242 existing homes association members sold last year, 62 percent were traditional sales, nearly double the 37 percent of 2012’s 44,902 sales.

Available single-family listings surged year over year, to 6,587 units. That was up 78.6 percent year over year.

The market had 1,664 available condos and townhomes, a 33 percent gain compared with December 2012.

Even though listings spiked, the market had just 2.8 months of available inventory at December’s sales rate. That’s less than half of the six-month supply of a normal market.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.