Las Vegas’ housing crunch is showing signs of easing

Updated July 21, 2018 - 12:17 am

As house hunters and real estate agents know, the inventory of homes for sale has dropped fast in Las Vegas.


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Low availability and strong demand have helped pump up local home prices at one of the fastest rates in the country, creating a windfall for sellers and sparking affordability concerns. Now there are signs — at least on paper — that the inventory crunch could be easing a bit.

According to figures from the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and consulting firm Applied Analysis:

— 4,335 single-family homes were listed without offers at the end of June, the most in seven months

— Available listings fell 16 percent year-over-year in June, compared with a 36.5 percent drop in January

— The tally of available houses rose 7.9 percent from April to May, the biggest monthly jump since 2014

— The number of houses on the market without offers rose in May and June, the first two-consecutive-month climb since 2016

None of this means that inventory is surging or will anytime soon, which, if it did, could let some air out of Las Vegas’ tightening market. Prices are rising so fast here that, according to Fitch Ratings, Southern Nevada has the most overvalued housing market in the country.

But if the recent changes persist, they could signal the beginnings of the latest shift in the valley’s ever-fluctuating market and provide some relief to buyers.

Inventory drops are shrinking nationally as well, and in some hot markets, availability is climbing because buyers can’t afford the high prices, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.

He expects inventory levels nationwide to soon post year-over-year gains, which would be “terrific, welcoming news.” Buyers are frustrated not only by rising prices but also by the “lack of exciting choices,” Yun said.

GLVAR President Chris Bishop, a branch manager at Coldwell Banker Premier Realty, said there are signs that inventory is “starting to rise somewhat.” But he noted that spring and summer are busy periods for the market, and he expected more people to list their houses anyway.

Applied Analysis co-owner Brian Gordon said Las Vegas’ “effective inventory” — availability divided by sales — has been flat for three months, hovering at 1.3 months’ worth of supply.

As recently as January 2016, the market had four months’ worth of supply, according to his figures.

The number of houses without offers has ticked up “modestly over the last few months,” Gordon said. But he, too, cited possible seasonal influences and said the overall tally of listings remained “minuscule.”

Still, Las Vegas’ housing market is nothing if not boring, and it’s seen plenty of shifts since the wild bubble of the mid-2000s and the devastating crash that followed.

The valley was flooded with cheap houses after the market tanked, and investors bought them in bulk to turn into rentals. By March of 2013, amid the buying binge, only about 2,800 houses were on the market without offers, down from more than 12,000 just a few years earlier, according to Gordon’s numbers.

Amid the drop-off in bargains, investors started backing out and available listings soared to almost 8,900 by fall 2014.

Since then, however, that tally has been sliced in half.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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