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Home sales, prices rise; inventory dips

Sales of single-family homes in Las Vegas and their median price increased in February from the previous month, while the inventory of homes available for sale continued to decline, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.

Realtors sold 3,053 homes during the month, a 4.2 percent increase from January and 17.8 percent increase from February 2011.

The median price rose to $121,000, up 2.5 percent from the prior month, though it’s still down 5.5 percent from a year ago.

Inventory declined to 18,870 from a peak of more than 24,000 in 2007. Of those, only 6,543 units are available without contingent or pending offers.

“It’s the supply and demand theory. It’s a logical chain of events happening,” said Kolleen Kelly, president of the Realtors association.

“If banks get back to full-bore on releasing inventory, we might see prices go down again, but we brought it up a little bit and every little bit counts,” Kelly added.

The median price for 741 sales of condos and townhomes in February was $60,000, the highest it’s been since May. Condo inventory declined 16.2 percent from a year ago, to 4,016 units in February.

The market has bottomed out, said Nancy Storey of Prudential Americana.

“Condos under $80,000 are going like hot cakes, especially if they have a garage,” she said. “I’ve got buyers all day for those.”

Some real estate agents are saying that prices could go up by as much 10 percent in the next few months as lenders figure out how to comply with the robo-signing law that went into effect in October.

David Brownell of Keller Williams Realty is not so sure.

“Instead, we may see investors taking a time-out as they wait for the next wave of bank-owned properties to come on the market,” he said. “Any spike in prices, should it occur, would be short term and may find certain buyers caught in a dip as the market corrects back to previous inventory levels.”

Brownell said that twice in the past week properties did not appraise for the purchase price, yet both buyers agreed to make up the difference in cash.

“I see this happening more and more as we move through 2012’s high season. There are just not enough homes on the market,” he said.

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

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