Prices steady, but home closings surge in March

Home closings surged across the Las Vegas Valley from February to March as prices held steady.

Sales of single-family homes spiked 37.8 percent month to month, to 2,707 units, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Closings of condos and town houses soared 33.7 percent, to 651 units. The gains were the biggest in the February-to-March period since 2006, the association said.

Sales were up year over year as well, by 6.7 percent among single-family homes and 17.1 percent among attached homes.

Single-family home prices were unchanged month to month, staying at a median of $205,000, although that was up 5.1 percent from $195,000 in March 2014. The median among condos and town houses jumped to $115,000, up 9.5 percent compared with February and 13.9 percent compared with March 2014.

Association President Keith Lynam said one month doesn’t make a trend, but he welcomed March’s improvement in closings.

Lynam said it’s common for sales to rise along with temperatures in the spring, but other factors besides the weather might be in play.

“Maybe our members and homeowners are taking our advice and asking more realistic prices for their homes,” he said, although with unsold inventories continuing to run 13 percent above year-ago levels, work still needs to be done in that area, he added.

An increase in refinancing activity might have kept lenders busy in February, and pushed some closings into March, Lynam said.

He advised caution on gleaning any long-term trends from March’s figures, and said he expected the market to keep stabilizing in coming months, with prices and closings hovering around their medians of the last six months.

“Stability is a great thing in marriage, and a really, really good thing in the real estate market. And that’s where we are — stable,” he said.

Distressed sales continued to retreat in March.

Short sales, in which banks let borrowers sell for less than what they owe, fell to 8.3 percent of local closings in March. That was down from 9.3 percent in February and 12.9 percent from March 2014.

Also, 9.3 percent of homes sold were bank-owned, compared with 9.7 percent in February and 11.7 percent in March 2014.

Cash sales, which indicate investor activity, fell to 32.4 percent of closings in March. Cash sales were 37.4 percent of the market in February, and 43.1 percent in March 2014. They peaked at 59.5 percent in February 2013.

Contact Jennifer Robison at Find @J_Robison1 on Twitter.