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GLVAR president says home sales fall in fall

Q: Is there a seasonality (to the home) buying time in Las Vegas? And what is the current seven-year price low on (residential) real estate in Las Vegas? Kind regards.

— Albert J.,

Newport Beach, Calif.

A: Those are interesting topics, so thanks for asking.

Home sales here in Southern Nevada do change somewhat with the seasons, though our seasonal swings are not usually as dramatic as they may be in other parts of the country.

I think one reason for our relatively steady sales pace over the years is our warm climate.

We don’t have the cold and sluggish winter sales seasons that you find in many cities in the Midwest and Northeast, for instance.

While tourism is our primary industry, the Las Vegas area is also home to nearly 2 million people.

So, you can’t compare us to smaller Sunbelt or California resort towns like Palm Springs, Calif.

Like most large cities, we sell more homes in the summer than we do in the winter.

And with many local schools recently switching from a year-round to a traditional nine-month school year, I see signs that local home sales could become slightly more seasonal this year and in future years.

Despite our hot summer weather, we usually see sales spike during the summer months.

That’s when families with children on summer vacation are most likely to look for a new home and make a move-in time to enroll students in new schools.

A good example of this summer sales surge came in August, which statistics from the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors showed to be the second best year ever for sales of existing homes, condominiums and townhomes in Southern Nevada.

As you might expect, GLVAR statistics show home sales tend to slow down around the holidays, when people are more likely to travel, spend time with friends and family and shop for things other than homes.

With fewer people shopping for homes around the holidays, GLVAR statistics show that December is generally a slow month for local home sales.

And January is usually the slowest sales month.

From the buyer’s perspective, you can usually find the most motivated sellers and some of the best bargains during this slowest sales season.

Sales activity usually picks up again in the spring and heats up through the summer before starting to fall in the fall.

To answer the second part of your question, the low point for local home prices during the past seven years or so would have to be today.

According to GLVAR, the median price of single-family homes sold here in August was $120,000.

That was down 1.6 percent from $122,000 in July and down 14.3 percent from $140,000 in August of 2010.

The median price for local condominiums and townhomes sold during this same time was $56,000.

That was down 5.1 percent from $59,000 the previous month and down 16.4 percent from $67,000 the previous year.

Local home prices haven’t been this low since the late 1990s.

I know this is unsettling for local homeowners. But it’s good news for potential buyers like you.

For more information on such issues, consult a qualified local Realtor or visit lasvegasrealtor.com.

Paul Bell is the president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and has worked in the real estate industry for 30 years. GLVAR has nearly 11,500 members. To ask him a question, e-mail him at ask@glvar.org. For more information, visit www.lasvegasrealtor.com.

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