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The salad days are over… if you are a buyer

I don’t mean the side dish many of us enjoy with our meals. No, the Las Vegas area as a buyer’s market is what I mean. The days when buyers called the shots and named their prices are far behind us, and we are now well on our way to being a seller-dominated market.

We’ve been publishing “Top Deals” on our web page for many years, sifting through the Multiple Listing Service for properties that we deem to be good deals based on price (excluding short sales and foreclosures from our search.) Back before the real estate bubble, we were using $100/sq.ft. as a bench mark and came up with several hundred matches. When the real estate market crashed, the number of properties that came up in our searches jumped dramatically, to well over 1000. When the mortgage robosign fiasco arose and many banks temporarily halted foreclosure procedures, the numbers dropped by a few hundred for awhile but began edging up again. We tightened our search criteria to limit the area somewhat to south Las Vegas & Henderson, and reduced the price to $85/sq.ft in order to come up with the more reasonable few hundred.

This week, when running our search, I was utterly amazed to see there were only 42. FORTY TWO! Just for the heck of it, I expanded the search to our original $100/sq.ft over the entire Las Vegas area, and found 563. Although I’ve been seeing prices gradually rise and competition for homes increasing, seeing these numbers demonstrated to me just how far we’ve come since the darkest days of our real estate woes.

The biggest challenge we Realtors sometimes face is when folks don’t realize that our real estate market can change in the proverbial blink of an eye. Back when the real estate bubble burst, many sellers thought they would still be able to get the fabulous prices that homes were commanding during the height of the frenzy, and were frustrated to learn that their homes were dropping in value rapidly. Now, we are seeing buyers who remember the stories of homes that were selling for amazingly low prices, tales about desperate sellers eager to accept low offers just to get out from under their shrinking home equity. Unfortunately, these buyers are too late; those days are over, and the numbers show it. Buyers are returning to real estate and their eagerness for Las Vegas homes is slowly but surely driving up the prices, along with the decreasing number of distressed properties (ie short sales, foreclosures and auctions) that have in the past kept home prices low.

This is not to say that it’s too late to buy a home. Mortgage rates are still near historic lows, and home prices are still dramatically below what they were several years ago. Good deals are still around, but those “screaming deals” we used to see are becoming as rare as snowstorms in Las Vegas in the summer. Buyers who are realistic about home pricing are still benefiting from the comparatively low prices of homes, especially combined with the extremely low interest rates we’re seeing.

Sellers, on the other hand, are likely to be rejoicing. The market recovery means that home owners are seeing their equity increase, in many cases going from an underwater situation to breaking even or even slightly ahead. And, for those who have owned their homes long enough, prices today may net a tidy profit over what they originally paid for their properties.

If you are thinking about buying, please remember that prices are increasing, and we don’t foresee this trend to be reversing. NOW is the time to take advantage of low interest rates and still-low real estate prices, before both go up and home ownership becomes more costly.

If you are a home owner thinking about selling, now can turn out to be the best time. Buyers are clamoring for homes; demand is high and homes often sell shortly after they come on the market.

Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, give us a call and let us show you how acting NOW in our unique market can work for YOU!

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