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Las Vegas housing market ‘on fire’ with record prices despite pandemic

Updated August 6, 2020 - 4:57 pm

Las Vegas’ housing market is “on fire” despite the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating effect on the economy, as sales totals surged and prices hit another all-time high last month, a new report says.

The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes — the bulk of the market — was $330,000 in July, up 1.5 percent from the previous record high in June and 8.9 percent from a year earlier, according to trade association Las Vegas Realtors.

Buyers picked up 3,325 houses last month, up 34.9 percent from June and 5.3 percent from July 2019.

The market gained speed as availability shrank. A total of 4,806 single-family houses were listed without offers at the end of July, down 5.4 percent from June and 38.4 percent year over year, LVR reported.

The association reports data from its resale-heavy listing service.

“The Las Vegas housing market is not just a bright spot in the economy. It’s on fire,” LVR President Tom Blanchard, a broker with Renters Warehouse, said in a news release.

Historically low interest rates, strong demand and tight supply are “driving the market,” he said, adding that one factor behind the record prices is that more expensive homes are making up a larger share of the sales volume.

Home prices have been rising nationally as well amid supply constraints and improved affordability, according to housing tracker CoreLogic.

“Given the economic outlook, housing remains a bright spot for the foreseeable future,” CoreLogic President and CEO Frank Martell said in a statement this week.

Las Vegas’ housing market was hit with a burst of turbulence after much of the local economy, including casinos, shut down in March over fears of the new coronavirus. Home sales activity plunged, and cancellations soared.

But the market has been rebounding from the early chaos of the pandemic, helped in no small part by shrinking mortgage rates, which make homes more affordable by letting buyers lock in lower monthly payments.

Nationally, the average rate on a 30-year home loan was 3.02 percent last month, down from 3.62 percent in January, according to mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac.

The housing market still faces plenty of unknowns, given that Las Vegas still has a high unemployment rate and that the coronavirus is still raging in Southern Nevada. But the valley has recouped many of the jobs it lost after the pandemic hit.

Las Vegas’ jobless rate, just 3.9 percent in February, shot up to 34 percent in April. By June it had tumbled to 18 percent after casinos and other businesses were allowed to reopen, state officials reported.

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

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