Las Vegas home prices rose more than twice as fast as the US average in March

Construction workers set bundles of tile on the roof of an under-construction house in the master-planned community of Summerlin in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 30, 2018. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph

Las Vegas home prices continued to tap the brakes in March but still grew more than twice as fast as the national average, a new report shows.

Southern Nevada prices were up 8.2 percent year-over-year in March, compared to a 3.7 percent gain nationally, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index released Tuesday by S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Las Vegas’ prices rose fastest among the 20 markets in the report for the 10th consecutive month, though the growth rate has slowed locally and nationally.

Last August, for instance, Southern Nevada home prices were up 13.9 percent from a year earlier, S&P Dow Jones previously reported.

The downshift is one sign of Las Vegas’ housing pullback. Sales totals are tumbling as well, and the once-shrunken inventory of available listings has shot back up, all of which followed a stretch of fast-rising prices and rising mortgage rates that, collectively, sparked affordability concerns.

Realty One Group agent Jillian Batchelor said Las Vegas is still a “strong seller’s market,” but homes aren’t trading hands as fast as they used to, and sellers are cutting their prices.

She estimated that probably 30 percent of her clients have slashed their asking price in the past five to six months, up from maybe 10 percent of her clients a year ago.

The biggest difference between now and then, Batchelor said, is that Las Vegas’ inventory of available houses has nearly doubled, while demand “has stayed similar.”

A total of 7,435 single-family homes were on the market without offers at the end of April, up almost 95 percent from a year earlier, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

“You can’t double inventory and keep your demand the same and expect the same level” of price growth, Batchelor said.

Nationally, house hunters “have hit a breaking point in what they’re willing to pay,” and sellers are slashing prices “more often than before,” Matthew Speakman, economic analyst with listing site Zillow, said in a statement Tuesday.

David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones, said in a statement that given the overall economic picture, “housing should be doing better.”

Mortgage rates have tumbled, and Blitzer said unemployment is near a 50-year low.

“The difficulty facing housing,” he added, “may be too-high price increases.”

Locally, the median sales price of previously owned single-family homes — the bulk of the market — was $300,000 in April, up 3.8 percent from a year earlier, according to the GLVAR.

It was the smallest year-over-year price jump in seven years, the association reported — and down from a 16 percent climb in April of 2018.

Despite the slower growth rate, resale prices are still climbing in Las Vegas, but they haven’t reached their pre-recession peak yet.

Las Vegas’ median house price topped out at $315,000 in June 2006, during the real estate bubble, according to the GLVAR. Adjusted for inflation, however, that peak price was $396,735 in today’s dollars, nearly $97,000 above the current median.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

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