Shelton predicts positive trends for 2011 real estate market

This being Christmas Day, I’d like to begin by wishing everyone reading this a very happy holiday season. Heading into the new year, I also want to spread a bit of cheer for our community and our local housing market in 2011.

Before I do that, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and its readers for giving me this great opportunity to share some thoughts with you every other week throughout 2010.

I truly enjoyed it. Actually, as I told my fellow Realtors at a recent event where I thanked them for all their support this year, I can honestly say I enjoyed my one-year term as president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors even more than I imagined I would.

I suppose some people are surprised to hear me say that. Besides being a lot of work, some of my peers have needled me a bit about my timing. After all, I have just presided over the largest professional organization in Southern Nevada during one of the worst economic periods in the history our state.

There’s no denying that the local real estate industry, not to mention local homeowners, are dealing with some tough times.

But let me tell you why I have hope for the coming year, and certainly beyond.

First, our most recent GLVAR statistics point out a few of the more positive trends I’ve been watching in our local housing market. For starters, last month marked the first time since at least 2004 when local home sales and home prices actually increased between the months of October and November. This is significant because sales and prices usually begin to fall in November and slump a bit through the winter before bouncing back in the spring.

This trend gives me hope that we could see some very modest home price appreciation as 2011 progresses.

Second, we’re starting to see more people pay attention to an even more remarkable fact about our local housing market. In case you haven’t heard, nearly half of all the homes being sold here in Southern Nevada every month are being purchased with cash.

As of the end of November, the GLVAR reported the exact percentage of cash buyers to be 47.8 percent. That’s remarkable. In fact, as far as we can tell, that’s a record not just for Southern Nevada, but for any major city in the country. And I think it speaks volumes about what’s happening here.

This tells me that savvy, generally well-educated investors with the means to buy property anywhere in the world, are putting their faith and dollars here in Southern Nevada. In other words, the so-called smart money thinks Las Vegas home prices are at or near the bottom and a good investment. It also suggests these cash buyers are betting on a brighter overall future for Las Vegas.

I happen to think they’re right. If nothing else, as long as so many investors keep buying homes here, this trend alone could speed up our journey on what has been a slow road to recovery.

Finally, I know this column, and the GLVAR, are in great hands as I turn over the reigns to incoming GLVAR President Paul Bell. Paul is a longtime local Realtor who has lived in Las Vegas since 1987. He’s very knowledgeable and has worked in commercial and residential real estate.

His first column is scheduled to be published in this space Jan. 8, 2011.

Please make him feel welcome by keeping your real estate questions coming.

Rick Shelton is the president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and has worked in the real estate industry for 20 years. GLVAR has 12,500 members. To ask him a question, e-mail him at ask@glvar.org. For more information, visit lasvegasrealtor.com. Questions may be edited for space and clarity.

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