As president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, I get asked almost every day about the local housing market. For this week’s column, I want to address such questions by sharing and briefly discussing some of GLVAR’s recent local housing statistics.
When I review these statistics, I realize how far we’ve come in the past few years. Consider that our local housing market was once dominated by distressed home sales, which now make up 17 percent of local home sales today. Also think about how local home prices continue to bounce back from the historic downturn we went through starting in 2008 or so.
GLVAR recently reported the median price of single-family homes sold through our Multiple Listing Service during May was $195,000, up 1.6 percent from $192,000 in April and back to where it was in March. May’s median home price was up 14.7 percent from $170,000 in May 2013.
The median price of existing condominiums and town houses sold in May was $102,000, up 2 percent from $100,000 in April and up 14.6 percent from $89,000 one year ago.
I try to keep these recently rising prices in perspective. Remember that local home prices are still well below their June 2006 peak of $315,000. Prices bottomed out at a median of $118,000 in January 2012 before rising for a record 19 straight months until last September, then increasing more gradually since then.
Going forward, I think we’ll see prices continue to stabilize, and I expect to see smaller percentages when we look at how much prices have increased year over year.
We have twice as many available homes on the market than we did one year ago, though we still need more homes to sell. In more good news, we sold more homes in May than we did the previous month, although our sales pace is still 14 percent behind last year.
For the past year or two, we have been transitioning from a market dominated by distressed sales to one driven by more traditional home sales, where lenders are not controlling the transaction.
May was an especially slow month for short sales, with only 7.9 percent of all existing local home sales being short sales, down substantially from 12.4 percent in April. Another 9.1 percent of all May sales were bank-owned properties, down from 11.4 in April.
Of course, as I’ve written before in this space, one reason for the slide in short sales is uncertainty about whether Congress will vote this year to extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 that expired Dec. 31.
If Congress doesn’t extend this law and make it retroactive to Jan. 1, it can create a big tax hit for anyone who did a short sale in 2014.
Realtors are still pushing Congress to extend this act for at least another year. Unless Congress extends this act, as Nevada’s congressional delegation has proposed, any amount of money a bank writes off in agreeing to sell a home as part of a short sale starting in 2014 may become taxable when sellers file their income taxes.
Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed that we win that legislative battle.
Heidi Kasama is the 2014 president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and has been a local Realtor for more than 11 years. GLVAR has more than 11,000 members. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.lasvegasrealtor.com.