New-home sales hit the skids in first half of year

Roofers work on new homes at a residential construction site in the west side of the Las Vegas Valley in Las Vegas, April 5, 2013.

Despite a bump in sales last month, it’s been a slow year for local homebuilders.

Southern Nevada developers sold 533 new homes in June, making it the best month of 2014, although the year-to-date total of 2,704 sales is down 25 percent from the first half of 2013, according to a new report from Las Vegas-based Home Builders Research.

The median sales price last month was $288,192, up 8 percent from a year earlier but down 4 percent from January, when the median price was $300,000.

Builders also pulled 703 home-construction permits in June, the highest monthly tally of the year. However, the six-month total of 3,371 permits is down 13 percent from the same period in 2013.

Buyers are pulling back amid rising borrowing costs. The average interest rate last month for a 30-year mortgage was 4.16 percent, historically low but up from 4.07 percent a year earlier, according to mortgage-finance company Freddie Mac.

Still, there could be as many as 20 to 30 new or “reworked” subdivisions opening in the second half of the year in the Las Vegas area, and they’re poised to have energy-efficient homes and more space for outdoor activities and homeowner interaction, Home Builders Research President Dennis Smith said in his report.

“This should give the new-home market ‘a boost’ it sorely needs,” he wrote.