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First Quarter Sales Disappoint Las Vegas Homebuilders

Last year's renewed signs of homebuilding brought the promise of change and recovery in the Las Vegas real estate market, but so far this year, sales are not keeping pace. New home sales in March dropped 27 percent over the previous March with only 453 closings. Comparing the first quarter of 2014 with the previous year, sales were down 22 percent to 1,287 closings.

Much of the nation is experiencing a similar story, though not quite as dramatic. In March of this year, new home sales nationwide were down 14.5 percent. What accounts for the drop? Very likely the rise in prices. Dennis Smith, president and CEO of Home Builders Research, said the local median new home price was up 26 percent to more then $285,000 in March. Smith wrote in a newsletter, "Many feel the local economy is not strong enough to 'keep pace' with the rising prices. The steady, improved job growth and a growing population are certainly good things to see, but there is still a long way to go before most consumer and business feel 'warm and fuzzy' about the future."

Guy Berger, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities, Inc. says, "The housing market is in a rut that's so far not showing signs of getting better. They don't have enough lots, they don't have enough workers. That's playing a big role." In addition, higher borrowing costs and rising prices have made properties less affordable. The median sales price of a home nationwide is now at $290,000.

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