Real Estate:

Boost in new-home sales shows Las Vegas market on ‘steady upward trend’

Visitors take time to view the models at a KB Home build during the Super Saturday at Inspirada on Saturday, October 4, 2014.

Las Vegas builders continue selling more homes than last year in a “slow, stable” uptick in activity, according to a new report.

Builders sold 583 new homes in Southern Nevada last month, bringing the year’s tally through July to 3,576 sales, up 12 percent from the same period in 2014, Home Builders Research reported Monday.

The median price of July’s closings was $305,928, up 5.4 percent year-over-year.

Meanwhile, builders pulled 680 new-home permits last month. That put the year’s total at 4,810, up 15.5 percent from the same time in 2014, indicating a jump in construction plans.

Overall, the results were “pretty much as we expected,” as most data now show that Las Vegas’ often-volatile housing market is “on a steady upward trend,” Home Builders Research founder Dennis Smith wrote.

“It has not been at a rapid pace, but rather a slow, stable positive trek, trying to get to a level where we might classify it as a ‘normal’ housing market,” Smith wrote. “However, in our opinion that is still months and maybe years away.”

Perhaps boosting business is the availability of cheap money: Interest rates are low, lenders are issuing more mortgages in Las Vegas, and buyers here are making smaller down payments.

The Federal Reserve has been expected to raise interest rates, which would push up borrowing costs. But rates likely won’t climb so high that people “stop buying homes,” Smith wrote.

Despite the rising sales totals, Las Vegas’ housing market is by no means problem-free. Southern Nevada, for instance, still has one of the highest rates of underwater homeowners in the country, reflecting how bloated prices became during the bubble and how far they plunged during the bust.

However, as Smith noted, local homeowners have steadily escaped upside-down status the past few years amid rising property values, easing a problem that “almost stopped the housing industry in Las Vegas.”

“The glass certainly appears now to be ‘half full,’” he wrote.

Real Estate