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Las Vegas home sales climbed fast in February

Southern Nevada home sales surged last month, but the market overall is still moving much slower than it did a year ago, a new report shows.

A total of 1,722 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in February, up 30 percent from January but still down 31.5 percent from February 2022, according to trade association Las Vegas Realtors.

Single-family homes sold for a median price of $424,995 last month, virtually unchanged from January. But prices were down 5.6 percent from February of last year.

Meanwhile, available inventory shrank last month but remains much higher than it was a year ago.

A total of 4,665 houses were on the market without offers at the end of February, down 14.4 percent from January but up 167.9 percent year-over-year, according to the association, which reports data from its listing service.

Las Vegas Realtors President Lee Barrett said in a news release that the housing market is “much more balanced now than it has been in recent years.”

“Instead of sellers having the advantage, buyers are now in a better position, since prices have stabilized and we have more homes on the market,” he said, adding it was “encouraging” to see the jump in sales totals.

‘Light shining through the fog’

After a cheap-money-fueled buying binge in 2021 sent home prices soaring and put sellers firmly in control of Las Vegas’ market, buyers pumped the brakes last year amid a sharp jump in mortgage rates. The market started 2023 on much of the same trajectory, but there have been some signs of an uptick.

On the construction side, for instance, Southern Nevada builders sold far fewer homes and pulled substantially fewer permits in January than they did a year earlier, but the market overall had “a few glimmers of light shining through the fog,” Las Vegas-based Home Builders Research reported.

Builders landed 661 net sales — newly signed purchase contracts minus cancellations — in January, down 39 percent from the same month last year, according to the firm.

Nonetheless, the sales tally climbed 59 percent from December, to its highest level since June. Monthly sales cancellations tumbled to their lowest amount in nearly a year, and customer foot traffic was on the rise.

“While generally the housing market still leaves much to be desired for many in the industry, 2023 has started with a few glimmers of light shining through the fog,” Home Builders Research President Andrew Smith wrote in the report.

‘Affordability is hindered’

Mortgage rates tumbled in January, giving buyers in Southern Nevada and across the United States some relief, but borrowing costs have since pushed higher again.

The average rate on a 30-year home loan was 6.65 percent as of last week, up from 6.09 percent in early February, federal data shows.

Sam Khater, chief economist with mortgage buyer Freddie Mac, said in a news release that lower rates in January “brought buyers back into the market,” but now that rates are moving up, “affordability is hindered” and it’s “difficult for potential buyers to act.”

In Southern Nevada, one sign the market remains a long way from its recent frenzy is houses still aren’t selling nearly as fast as they used to.

Among the single-family homes that changed hands last month, 41.1 percent of them had been on the market for 30 days or less — compared with 76.8 percent of the houses that sold in February of last year, according to data from Las Vegas Realtors.

In another sign of the market’s dramatic change, house prices have slumped from year-ago levels, but in February of 2022, prices had catapulted almost 27 percent from the year before.

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

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