Report: Rising prices a drag on new-home sales

Las Vegas Strip casinos can be seen behind new home construction Wednesday, July 30, 2014, in Summerlin.

Las Vegas homebuilders are stuck in the doldrums as buyers continue to shy away from hefty price tags, a new report shows.

Local builders sold 530 new homes in August, bringing this year’s total to 3,733, down 26 percent from the same period in 2013, according to Las Vegas-based Home Builders Research.

Builders also pulled 544 new-home permits, a “disappointing” total, research firm President Dennis Smith said. Permits had been steadily climbing this year, and Smith expected more than 700 last month.

The median sales price in August was $289,628, up 9 percent year-over-year.

Smith attributed the decline in permits to processing delays. Brokers, meanwhile, have told him that plenty of people are looking at homes but not biting, indicating “a healthy dose of price resistance,” he said.

“The housing market continues to ‘ho-hum’ its way through 2014,” Smith wrote in the report. “The old two steps forward, one step back scenario seems to be embedded and it is very difficult to get rid of.”

New-home sales have plunged this year as would-be buyers, saddled with credit woes, flat wages and sticker shock, can’t pay the high listing prices.

The market slowdown has been far greater locally than nationally.

Southern Nevada builders sold about 2,700 new homes in the first half of the year, down 25 percent from the same period in 2013, according to Home Builders Research.

Nationwide, new-home sales slipped just 4 percent in that time, federal data show.

As a result, at least some local builders have slashed prices recently, offered buyers more perks and boosted agents’ sales commissions, so they’d steer clients to construction sites.