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Boom? Bubble? Sorting through housing availability

Reported by: Gerard Ramalho
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Updated: 4/24/2013 10:53 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- The lack of available properties has made the market very competitive for buyers and even has some wondering if Las Vegas is on the verge of another housing bubble.

The past decade has been a whirlwind for Las Vegas. First came the so- called housing boom, then, a few years later, the bust -- foreclosures, people walking away from their mortgages, and plenty of empty properties.

Homes are selling again -- so much so that inventory is dropping and values are up, already 30 percent over last year.

Troy Kearns of Gavish Real Estate has seen it all as both a real estate agent and an investor.

"It's a good time to buy, but you just gotta be careful too," he said. “If you're going to live in the house for five to 10 years, it's an excellent time to buy. You're going to be paying more than it was a year ago, more than it was six months ago, more than it was three months ago."

Kearns stops short of saying properties are overvalued right now but believes a "leveling off" is in the works. He adds that the so-called "shadow inventory," an estimated 52,000 homes currently unoccupied in the valley, could soon be back on the market.

State law has discouraged banks from claiming many of those pending-foreclosure properties, but experts say eventually they will. That could mean a potential surge in inventory and a likely drop in values.

"If you're an investor, I would be a little bit cautious of our Las Vegas market right now,” he said. “If you're looking for home-ownership for the long term, with the way interest rates are, then I would make that determination based on the price-point that you're looking at.”

For now, cash investors are still snatching up what they can, leaving average buyers at a disadvantage.

Like most things in Las Vegas, home buying is a bit of a gamble right now. Kearns says just make sure you can afford it and it's what you want.
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