Homes for sale in Las Vegas still sliding

The number of single-family homes listed for sale in Las Vegas dropped to 22,005 in December from 23,494 in November, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported. Inventory is up 23.4 percent from December 2006.

Condo and townhome listings increased 14 percent from a year ago to 5,508 in December.

Foreclosures have driven the single-family home median price down to $260,000, a 15.1 percent decline from a year ago. Median condo prices are down 5.1 percent to $185,000.

December’s statistics may not be a true reflection of the marketplace, association President Patty Kelley said Monday. December is traditionally a slow month, she said, and a large number of homes are vacant and owned by investors, banks and other lenders who sold last month at deeply discounted prices.

The Multiple Listing Service showed 879 home sales in December, down 46.5 percent from the same month a year ago and the fourth straight month under 1,000 sales.

More than one-fourth (228) of the homes had either been repossessed or were "short sales," Kelley said. A short sale is when a mortgage holder or bank allows a homeowner to sell a home for less than what is owed on the loan.

"I believe that percentage may actually be closer to 40 percent of all home sales since banks are under enormous pressure to get these properties off their books," Kelley said. "In any case, this has resulted in significant numbers of homes selling well below market value and appraised value, creating an artificially low median price."

She said one bright spot in December’s numbers is the continued decline in listings from a peak of 24,341 in August.

"Real estate is local. Even though we get lumped into the national numbers, it’s what’s happening today in Las Vegas that matters," Kelley said. "We’re down right now, but in 2008, we see some positive things on the horizon. You can get a tremendous buy out there."

Realtor Bob Reeve said the absence of new home construction shows the market’s health.

"Pick 10 new home tracts, any tracts, drive by all of them once a month and count the number of new homes in the framing stage," Reeve said.

Association statistics are based on data collected through the MLS and do not necessarily account for newly constructed homes sold by local builders and other transactions not involving a Realtor.

The association reported 167 condo units sold in December, down 55.1 percent from a year ago.

Total dollar value of single-family homes sold in December was $280.4 million, down 54 percent from a year ago.

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

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