Since hitting its low of $64 per square foot in January of 2012, by last month the median price of homes sold in Las Vegas had risen to $126 per square foot. Although we are not quite there yet, that 97% increase has gone a long way to bring the Las Vegas real estate market back to its pre-recession levels when the median sales price per square foot of Las Vegas homes hit its high of $191 in May 2006.
Although the rate of increase has slowed in recent months, the price increase trend has been fairly steady. (Although there are seasonal dips.) To illustrate this point, I have provided a chart below of the trend from January 2012 to August 2016, and, to focus on more recent data, a chart of sales during the last year.
In the last 30 days, 2,841 homes listed on the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors® MLS have sold in the Las Vegas area. Today, there are 8,069 homes on the market. This means that the absorption rate (the number of months that it would take to sell all of the homes on the market at the current pace of sales) is a little under 3. As a rule of thumb, any absorption rate under 6 is considered to be a sellers’ market. When I wrote about the trend of the market in September of last year the absorption rate was 3.5. During that same period prices have increased about 6%. So, if anything, the Las Vegas real estate market has gotten a little stronger over the last year.
Another indicator of the strength of the Las Vegas real estate market is that the median days homes are on the market has dropped from 32 days in September 2015 to 22 days last month.
Although house prices are not likely to rise at the pace of the early years of the recovery when from January 2012 to January 2013 prices rose 27%, with demand remaining strong it appears likely that a generally upward trend will continue.
To some extent this trend is supported by historically low mortgage interest rates and an increase in rates may dampen demand for homes to some extent. However, since its quarter point increase in December of last year, the Fed has again and again put off its next rate increase. The Fed is set to meet again on the 20th and 21st of this month and may make a move at that time. Although, even when they make their next interest rate move, they have indicated that they expect further increases will be slow and deliberate. Interestingly, after the Fed made the move to increase rates last December, rather than increasing in tandem with the increase in short term rates, mortgage interest rates actually declined.
Another factor suggesting at an interest rate increase will not have a dramatic effect on home prices is that 20% of homes purchases in Las Vegas last month were cash. Although this is not as high as the 54% of homes purchased for cash in February 2013, it demonstrates that there are still a lot of buyers in the market who won’t feel the impact of a rate hike.