Home sales, prices fall in Las Vegas

After showing signs of stability for a couple of months, Las Vegas’ housing market returned to its downward trend in sales and prices in August, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Thursday.

Homes are still selling at a brisk pace, but at a slightly slower rate and at lower prices than the previous month, the Realtors’ statistics showed.

Single-family home sales dropped to 3,229 in August from 3,738 in July. They increased 26.9 percent from August 2008. The median price of $135,500 is down 2.4 percent from July and 35.5 percent from a year ago.

The number of homes available for sale climbed 2.8 percent in August to 20,999, though inventory is down 7.5 percent from a year ago. Also, the Realtors association has begun subtracting contingent and pending sales from the inventory, which leaves 8,579 available listings without offers.

Even with a dip in sales and prices, the numbers indicate demand for homes in Las Vegas remains strong, said Sue Naumann, president of Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

She’s heard reports that more investors and cash buyers are coming to Las Vegas and thinks they’re one in the same.

“They are taking advantage of opportunities to increase their rental portfolio, which is not necessarily a bad thing,” Naumann said. “As people get foreclosed on, they need rental homes for their children and dogs.”

California-based real estate consultant John Burns said the return of investors explains some of the resurgence in sales in many markets. They account for 26 percent of total sales in 53 markets he tracks, compared with 21 percent in third quarter 2008.

“Our conversations with investors reveal that many are looking to rent the properties they buy, as opposed to flipping them as was common in the up cycle although there are flippers this time around as well,” Burns said.

With the cost of homeownership falling below rental parity in markets such as Phoenix and Las Vegas, investors are increasingly able to produce positive cash flow from these properties by making a large down payment, he said.

Bank-owned properties accounted for 70.5 percent of all Las Vegas housing sales in August Ñ a sizable percentage, but down from the past few months, Naumann noted.

Condo and townhome sales declined to 810 units in August, down 6.3 percent from July. Their median price fell 1.1 percent to $66,288. The number of condos for sale increased 2.4 percent to 5,508, with 2,545 available units without offers.

Real estate analyst John Restrepo of Restrepo Consulting Group in Las Vegas said the new reporting system of listings with and without offers essentially reflects a gross-vs.-net view of the local market. It’s an encouraging sign that only 41 percent of the nearly 21,000 total reported listings did not have an offer in August, he said.

The association statistics are based on data collected through its Multiple Listing Service and do not necessarily account for new homes sold by builders, homes sold by owners and other transactions not involving a Realtor.

The value of condo and townhome transactions tracked through the MLS increased 2.6 percent to more than $77 million in August. Nearly $532 million worth of single-family homes were sold, down 13 percent from July.


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