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Las Vegas home prices break bubble-era record

After more than 13 years, Las Vegas house prices have finally eclipsed their bubble-era peak.

But they remain well below those of the boom days when adjusted for inflation – underscoring just how bloated the market got before it crashed, and how long the trek back has taken in the epicenter of America’s real estate collapse.

The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes – the bulk of the market – reached an all-time-high of $316,000 last month, $1,000 above the pre-recession record set in mid-2006, according to a new report from Las Vegas Realtors, or LVR, which pulls data from its resale-heavy listing service.

Prices last month were up 6.7 percent from a year earlier. February also had a big jump in sales, with buyers grabbing 2,471 houses, up 25.7 percent from February 2019, said the trade group, which recently changed its name from the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Setting a new price record is more symbolic than anything for Las Vegas, which, unlike markets across the country, was still stuck below its prior peak more than a decade after the economy imploded.

“We’ve been waiting for this milestone for a long time,” LVR President Tom Blanchard, a broker with Renters Warehouse, said in a statement. “While it’s interesting to talk about how we finally broke the record, it’s important to remember that it took us more than 13 years to get here.”

‘Full circle’

Las Vegas, after its wild mid-2000s housing bubble, was the hardest-hit metro area of the country during the recession and has been “slower to recover” than other markets, said Brian Gordon, co-owner of Las Vegas consulting firm Applied Analysis.

Prices around the U.S. surpassed their previous highs “quite some time ago,” Gordon said, adding that Las Vegas has “come full circle.”

The valley’s housing market is more volatile than most, real estate pros have said. It has flippers and other investors, a transient population, a workforce that largely doesn’t earn hefty paychecks, a regular influx of newcomers, and an economy dominated by hotel-casinos.

All told, home prices have been a roller coaster for years. They soared during the mid-2000s bubble, plunged when the economy tanked and have climbed at various speeds – sometimes accelerating, other times downshifting – since the market hit bottom several years ago.

The median sales price of a previously owned house peaked in June 2006 at $315,000. Adjusting for inflation, that’s nearly $400,500 in today’s dollars — almost $84,500 above the current level.

More fluctuations

Las Vegas’ housing market cooled off last year after a heated stretch sparked affordability concerns. Price growth slowed, sales totals dipped and the tally of available listings rose much of the year.

Slower price growth and low interest rates have made homes more affordable, or at least not as expensive as they could be. And lately, sales volume has accelerated.

Around 2,280 single-family homes traded hands in January, up 25 percent from the same month last year, and about 2,600 sold in December, up almost 22 percent, according to LVR.

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

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