Real estate:

Surging home values in Las Vegas expected to keep their momentum


A realty sign is posted in front of home in the Lakes neighborhood of Las Vegas, Dec. 2, 2011.

After bottoming out a year ago, Las Vegas home values have soared and are expected to rise further, boosting the region’s fragile economic recovery.

The Las Vegas Valley’s median home value was $138,800 as of March 31, at the end of the first quarter, up 22.3 percent from a year earlier, according to a report out Wednesday from Seattle-based research firm Zillow. Local home values hit bottom in the first quarter last year at $113,500.

In this week’s report, which covered 30 metro areas, Las Vegas had the second-highest rate of year-to-year appreciation behind Phoenix’s 24 percent. San Jose, Calif., was a close third at 22.1 percent. Home values rose nationally by 5.1 percent.

Las Vegas home values are expected to climb 7.5 percent by spring 2014, compared with the projected increase nationally of 3.2 percent, Zillow said.

Cash investors, who snap up cheap Las Vegas homes to use as rentals, are behind much of the housing sector’s recovery. Sales prices, home values, new home sales and construction projects are on the rise, although still nowhere near the boom years.

For instance, the median price of previously owned single-family homes sold in March was $161,000, up 31 percent from $123,000 a year ago. In 2006, the price was more than $300,000, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Altogether, the local economy is improving but remains badly damaged from the recession.

Nevada has the highest foreclosure rate, second-highest mortgage delinquency rate and fourth-highest credit card delinquency rate in the country. The valley has the highest percentage of underwater homeowners, whose mortgage debt exceeds their home value, and is tied for having the fourth worst consumer credit score in the country.