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Good News: Las Vegas Home Prices Are Up Nearly 19 Percent From A Year Ago

"Affordability is still strong in Las Vegas"
"Affordability is still strong in Las Vegas"Zillow

According to S&P Case Shiller's latest home price report, Las Vegas home prices are up nearly 19 percent from a year ago.

Prices in "Sin City" bottomed in January 2012 at a median of $118,000 before rising at a record rate for 19 straight months until September 2013, when prices began to level off again, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. Cash buyers made up 34.7 percent of sales in June, down from a peak of nearly 60 percent in February 2013.

The Las Vegas housing market is in transition.

"The mix of closings are slanting much more toward nondistressed sales, which has fewer investors picking up properties," said Brian Gordon of Las Vegas-based analytics firm Applied Analysis.

Zilow economist Stan Humphries said affordability is still strong in Las Vegas. Fifty-seven percent of homes sold in Vegas are vacant and nearly 30 percent of homeowners are still in a negative equity position—meaning the homeowner owes more on the mortgage than the home is worth.

With more inventory on the market and fewer cash sales and because home values remain 30% below their peak levels, it is still possible for buyers to find bargains. Today, owner occupant home buyers are in a better position to get a property they want and can afford.

“In dozens of markets, homeowners who bought at the peak of the market in 2006 or 2007 will have to wait until 2017 or later to get back to the breakeven point on their homes, a lost decade in which they will have built up no home equity. This is reflected in stubbornly high negative equity and effective negative equity rates, with more than a third of Americans with a mortgage lacking enough equity to realistically list their home for sale and buy another,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries.