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Las Vegas home sales reach all-time high in 2021

Updated January 6, 2022 - 7:18 pm

Southern Nevada ended a year of record-setting home sales with prices at another all-time high, capping a frenzied stretch that defied an economy still badly bruised by the pandemic.

The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes — the bulk of the market — was $425,000 in December, up 1.2 percent, or $5,000, from the record set in November, and 23.2 percent from December 2020, according to a new report from trade association Las Vegas Realtors.

A total of 3,178 single-family homes traded hands last month, down 2.9 percent from November and 3.8 percent from December 2020.

But overall, a record 50,010 residential properties, including houses, condos and townhomes, were sold last year, up 21.5 percent from 2020.

Last year’s total topped the previous all-time high, set in 2011, by nearly 2,000 sales, according to the association, which reports data from its resale-heavy listing service.

“It’s remarkable, especially considering this record was set during a pandemic, when local home prices have never been higher and the housing supply has rarely if ever been lower,” Brandon Roberts, the association’s president this year, said in a news release.

Despite high unemployment sparked by the coronavirus outbreak, Las Vegas’ housing market accelerated last year with rapid sales and record-high prices, fueled largely by rock-bottom mortgage rates that have let buyers stretch their budgets.

The frenzy looked largely the same as in other U.S. cities, marked by tight inventory, multiple offers and sellers firmly in control as people tried to buy a place amid low borrowing costs.

On the resale side, buyers showered Las Vegas-area homes with offers and routinely paid over the asking price, and median sales prices set all-time highs practically every month.

Homebuilders in Southern Nevada also put buyers on waiting lists, regularly raised prices and in some cases drew names to determine who gets to purchase a place.

Overall, Las Vegas’ economy has improved dramatically since the early chaos of the pandemic, when a staggering 33 percent of the local workforce was unemployed in spring 2020 after casinos went into state-ordered lockdown and tourism, the region’s main financial engine, all but stopped.

The housing market, however, heated up to record levels despite persistently high unemployment.

Las Vegas’ jobless rate in November, 6.3 percent, was down from 9.8 percent in January 2021 but still second highest in the nation among large metro areas, just behind Los Angeles at 6.4 percent, federal data shows.

Job losses sparked by the pandemic were heavily concentrated in service sectors. White-collar — and likely higher-earning — workers often kept their jobs but started working from home, and with mortgage rates at historic lows, many people tapped cheap money to buy a new place, helping fuel America’s unexpected housing boom.

According to local real estate pros, Southern Nevada has seen more out-of-state buyers than usual during the pandemic, especially from pricier markets such as California, as people sought more space amid widespread work-from-home arrangements.

And while Las Vegas’ market is dominated by single-family houses, attached dwellings have drawn heavy interest too.

The median sales price of condos and townhomes last month was a record $242,000, up 0.8 percent, or $2,000, from the previous high set in November, and 30.1 percent from a year ago, Las Vegas Realtors reported.

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

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