Las Vegas home prices continue steady rise, surprising experts

Realtor Helen Riley and Fafie Moore, a Realty Executives owner/broker, leave a home being offered for sale in Henderson on Monday, April 8, 2013.

Despite an expected slowdown, Las Vegas housing prices keep going up.

The median price of a previously owned single-family home sold in Southern Nevada last month was $180,000, up 35 percent from $133,000 a year earlier, according to a new report from the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Sales prices have now climbed 17 of the past 18 months after bottoming out in January 2012, at $118,000. According to research firm CoreLogic, Nevada home prices are the fastest-rising in the country.

“We keep expecting these price increases to slow down at some point, but it hasn’t happened yet,” GLVAR President Dave Tina said.

He’s not the only one to predict that Las Vegas’ housing market will cool off. Home values are expected to grow 9 percent by June 2014 after soaring 29 percent over the past year, the second-fastest rate among major metro areas, according to Zillow.

The surge has been fueled in large part by cash investors who buy cheap houses in bulk to turn into rentals, crimping the inventory of homes for sale. Availability also has been limited by homeowners who refuse to sell or can’t sell because they’re underwater or stuck in foreclosure processing delays.

Analysts say the valley is not mired in another housing bubble, as prices and values simply are rising from historic lows. Some experts, however, say the valley could be on the cusp of another false housing boom.

Yale University economist Robert Shiller, co-founder of the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, said in late June that Las Vegas is one of several cities at risk of a bubble.