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Underwater homeowners hurt, helped by rising prices

Reported by: Amber Dixon
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Updated: 4/11/2013 7:37 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Local home prices are up nearly 31 percent from last year, and agents are getting bids on properties as soon as they're listed.

But is the increase enough to help underwater homeowners?

Higher home prices are a help and headache to Las Vegas mom Rachel Johnson.

After years underwater, she said her home is finally worth what she bought it for. But Johnson might need to buy a different house, closer to her husband's work.

It’s a purchase she worries will cost her more.

“While I'm no longer upside down on this house, I'd have to pay more for a house even similar in square footage,” Johnson said.

As a Las Vegas homeowner, some consider Johnson lucky to break even on her home. It's a status many local homeowners with a mortgage can't yet reach.

According to Zillow, a real estate data company, 59 percent of home mortgages in Clark County are underwater, and of those underwater homeowners, 31 percent owe double on their home than what it's worth.

Brian Gordon, a principal at Applied Analysis, which owns a real estate tracking company, said new higher home values won't likely dry up the number of underwater homes.

“For a lot of people, they're so far underwater, the recent price increase really doesn't make a difference,” Gordon said. “Every bit helps. There's no question when prices are going up that's a good thing for people that own property, right?

“They're gaining more equity than they had or reducing the shortfall that they have developed over the last several years during the downturn.”

The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors said the median price for a single-family home sold in March was $161,000.

They said that's about half of what the median home price was in 2006.
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