Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Escrow Officers Say Las Vegas Real Estate Market Improving!

The phones are ringing! This is a good sign that things are happening in the real estate marketplace.

People are beginning to buy Las Vegas homes again, showing more confidence that perhaps the worst of the housing crisis has passed and that housing costs have reached an affordable level. Whether they have found a home in their price range, are negotiating for a short sale, have beaten the builder up on Las Vegas new homes or are looking at a Bank owned property, the contracts are being written.

Increasingly again, more and more properties are coming on the market “in the selling zone.” They are being listed at a competitve price and selling in a relatively short timeframe, while those that are overpriced continue languish on MLS without even generating an offer. Approximately 36% of June 2008 closings (those priced “in the selling zone” at listing) were listed under 90 days on the market, with an average of 60 days on market. The remaining 64% suffered through an average of 230 days on market - that’s nearly 8 months, definitely out of the selling zone.

Listing prices have now dropped 19.5% since September 2007, while closed sales are up 149% since their low in December 2007. June 2008 closed sales represent another 5% improvement over May. More importantly, this is the only the second month since August 2006 that we have witnessed more than 2000 single family home closings.

June closings may also set the tone for the balance of 2008. This is the first time since 2006 that June closings were above the May closings. And inventory is holding steady rather than increasing as it usually does at this time of year. As more of the overpriced Las Vegas homes for sale come off the market in the coming months, inventory levels should actually start to decline.

Previously Escrow Officers were the last to know that a deal was in the works or that a purchase contract was on the way toward an opening. However in these changing times there are many questions about the status of ownership on properties and Escrow Officers are being asked to preview the titles of properties right from the first day of the listing interview. There are more questions and more challenges that need to be overcome before these properties can be listed, let alone get sold, so we become informed of the progress of a property step by step.

All principals in transactions today, Buyers, Sellers, Las Vegas mortgage lenders and Agents, need to be more than patient during the transaction process, as clearing titles, arranging for financing, working with out of State clients and negotiating with banks on the short sales and Las Vegas foreclosures adds to the number of days a property is in escrow before closing. Being prepared to allow lots of extra time and knowing that more than likely the transaction will not close on time will ease the tensions for everyone.

All in all, as long as the phones keep ringing, things are looking great from the Escrow side!

Contributed by guest blogger:
Debra Leatham
Vice President, Escrow Manager
Equity Title of Nevada