Is it a good time to be a first-time buyer in Las Vegas?

If first-time homebuyers seem confused these days, it would be hard to blame them.After all, just a few weeks ago, we saw two seemingly conflicting national reports about whether or not Southern Nevada is a good place for first-time homebuyers.

First, BankRate.com issued a report ranking the Las Vegas market as the eighth worst metro area in the country for first-time buyers. See the report at bankrate.com/mortgages. BankRate.com based its low ranking for our area on 13 measures related to affordability, culture, the job market, market tightness and safety. It used what it described as “the most recently available data for the 50 most populous metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs. For our analysis, we gave affordability a 30 percent weighting, safety, market tightness and the quality of the job market each a 20 percent rating and culture a 10 percent rating.”

Just one day after BankRate.com released its report, Zillow issued a March 19 report and news release on a similar topic that painted a completely different picture of the situation in Southern Nevada for first-time buyers. On its list of the “Ten Best Markets for First-Time Homebuyers” available at zillow.com/research, Zillow ranked Las Vegas as the second best place in the entire nation for such buyers.

Zillow used different criteria for its lofty ranking for the Las Vegas area, including these four metrics:

■ Low median home value that requires a smaller down payment.

■ Strong forecasted home value appreciation, helping buyers’ overall wealth grow.

■ High inventory-to-household ratio, to indicate available supply.

■ High share of listings with a price cut.

Talk about mixed messages. When media outlets contacted the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors recently to ask about this issue, 2019 GLVAR President Janet Carpenter explained that the answer to the question depends on who ask – and when.

“I don’t want to get into the weeds here in comparing the methodology that led these two different companies to come up with two completely different conclusions about the state of our local housing market for first-time buyers,”

Carpenter said. “But I can tell you this: I believe our local housing market is certainly more favorable today for first-time buyers than it was just one year ago.”

Consider that GLVAR statistics show the median price of an existing home sold in Southern Nevada during February was $296,200. That was down from an even $300,000 in January, but still up 7.7 percent from $275,000 in February of 2018.

At the same time, she said the local housing supply has been rising rapidly in recent months, with nearly a four month supply of homes now available for sale.

One year ago, local home prices were rising more rapidly — posting a year-over- year gain of 14.6 percent through February of 2018. Meanwhile, the local housing inventory one year ago had shrunk to less than a two-month supply of available homes.

“That was a tough time for almost anyone looking to buy a home, especially for first-time and entry-level buyers,” Carpenter added. “No matter what housing report you’re reading these days, if you’re looking to buy your first home in Las Vegas today, your odds have certainly improved.”

GLVAR was founded in 1947 and provides its more than 14,000 local members with education, training and political representation. The local representative of the National Association of Realtors , GLVAR is the largest professional organization in Southern Nevada. Each GLVAR member receives the highest level of professional training and must abide by a strict code of ethics. For more information, visitLasVegasRealtor.com.

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