Las Vegas sees uptick in homeowners refinancing their mortgages

Sam Morris

House flipping was a hallmark of last decade‚Äôs real estate bubble, when investors, backed by easy money, bought homes and sold them for profit a short time later. Few places got as crazed with flipping as Las Vegas.

For homebuyers, mortgage lending slowed more in Las Vegas than it did nationally in the final months of 2015 compared to a year earlier.

But for homeowners looking to refinance, borrowing picked up faster locally than it did nationwide.

A total of 6,298 home-purchase loans were doled out in the Las Vegas area in the fourth quarter last year, down 4 percent from the same period in 2014, according to RealtyTrac.

Nationally, roughly 601,600 home-purchase loans were issued in the fourth quarter, down 1 percent year-over-year.

At the same time, 5,618 refinancing loans were issued locally in the fourth quarter, up 5 percent. About 663,600 were issued nationally, up 2 percent.

Easy credit fueled the doomed housing bubble last decade, with some 26,000 home-purchase loans issued locally and more than 1.3 million nationally in just the third quarter of 2005, according to RealtyTrac data.

Such lending has recouped more of its post-bubble losses nationwide than it has in Las Vegas, whose once-pummeled housing market has improved from the depths of the recession but still grapples with high rates of underwater homeowners, foreclosures, vacant houses and shabby personal finances.

U.S. home-purchase loan totals are 54.5 percent below their 2005 peak, but in Las Vegas, lending volume is 76 percent below its peak.

Real Estate