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Home sales, median price continue upswing

Single-family home sales continued to post big numbers in October and median prices rose for the second straight month, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported today.

There were 3,535 home sales during the month, a 5.3 percent increase from September and a 30.1 percent increase from the same month a year ago.

The median price climbed to $139,100, up from $138,000 in September and from $135,500 in August. It’s down 26.8 percent from a year ago.

Inventory remained steady at nearly 21,000 units, though most of the listings are contingent or pending sale, the Realtors group said. Only 8,075 units are available without offers.

The recent extension and expansion of the federal tax credit probably will keep home sales strong in the coming months, association president Sue Naumann said.

“This has been a big boost to our economy and our local housing market,” she said. “I think we can see the increased values more because of the $8,000 homebuyer tax credit and the extension of that has really helped the market quite a bit. People were getting frantic wondering if they were going to be able to close before the deadline, so that gives a little bit of breathing room for everyone.”

Realtors across the country are happy to see a tax credit of up to $6,500 extended to first-time buyers and also to “move-up” buyers, Naumann said.

Home prices in Las Vegas are being dragged down by foreclosures, which have a median price of $116,900, according to Las Vegas-based SalesTraq research firm.

Naumann said the percentage of bank-owned home sales declined to 64.5 percent in October, compared with 67 percent in September.

Recent data show the dismal housing market making a turnaround, but there are still supply and demand issues that will hamper the recovery, said Whitney Tilson of T2 Partners investment firm in New York.

Low interest rates, falling home prices and the first-time homebuyer tax credit have contributed to a seasonal upturn in housing. However, total inventory is triple what’s actually being reported, Tilson said. He estimates there are twice as many homes in foreclosure or near foreclosure yet to be listed for sale with a wave of losses still to come on prime loans and jumbo loans.

“The rebound has been stronger than we’ve anticipated,” Tilson said. Still, he remains confident that this is the “mother of all head fakes.”

Statistics from the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors are based on data collected from the Multiple Listing Service and do not necessarily account for sales by owners, home builders and transactions not involving a Realtor.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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