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Real estate market softens Print E-mail
Saturday, 02 September 2006
A buildup of housing inventory for sale in the neighboring giant of Las Vegas is one of the reasons blamed for a slowdown in the Pahrump real estate market this year, local real estate professionals say. But then, they're comparing the market now to what it was during the boom of 2004 and early 2005, when Pahrump experienced its version of the Oklahoma land rush.

Real estate professionals in Las Vegas reported a record inventory of 20,273 homes on the market, according to a report this week in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Sales of existing homes in Las Vegas are down 22 percent from a year ago.

Donna Lamm, a real estate broker for Provenza Realty, has been trying to sell a home on the northwest side long enough that now she's trying to rent it. Some local real estate representatives said the problem is that sellers can no longer expect to get they prices they were able to demand during the boom.

"The market in general has been extremely slow. I think that as soon as the weather lets up in the fall, I think we're going to start getting busy again," Lamm said. But looking back to 2004, she added, "We had a rush like I've never seen in my 34 years in real estate. We were getting multiple offers on houses and land. Then, after the frenzy, the prices went up so fast and so high that everything slowed down, in addition to the fact interest rates went up."

Manufactured home sales are holding steady, but sales of custom homes have dropped quite a bit since the beginning of the year, Dishong said.

"We see a lot more of the sellers paying 3 percent of the closing costs. That's just because it's a buyer's market and that's what people have to do to sell," he said. "Instead of selling them in two to three months, it's taking four to six months. It's taking a lot to sell property, and then there's a lot more selling incentives."

Fely Quitevos, a realty agent with Precious Properties, said she's surprised some investors are still coming in her office to buy large tracts of land, 40-acre and 80-acre parcels.

But when it comes to sales of existing property, she said, "We really have to educate these sellers because they think it's still a seller's market. It's changing now to a buyer's market."

Quitevos referred to the situation in 2004 as "that crazy market." Before then, she said, single lots were selling for $18,000 to $25,000. Then prices shot up to $60,000 and up.

But today Quitevos said she's read on the Internet about new home developers like Beazer Homes offering 8 percent commissions and giving $10,000 to $20,000 to home buyers, incentives that are difficult for existing home sellers to compete with.

Quitevos said some of her listings have expired after six months, and she's had to renew them. But she added, "If the property is priced right, we could sell."

Mary Greenspan, a broker with Greenspan Realty, said she's been in Pahrump 12 years. She described sales this year as "business as usual.

"We're not in the big boom business everybody experienced two years ago. You can't sit back and wait for your phone to ring. If a real estate person is a real professional, they're suiting up and showing up," she said. "I'm still selling and listing, and there is an overabundance of listings in this valley right now. Unfortunately, a lot of people are still of the mind set that properties are still worth what they were worth two years ago.

"There's three things that are actually happening: We're finding more price reductions. We're finding sellers contributing more money toward buyers closing costs, and we're also experiencing longer days on the market," Greenspan said.

Karen Spalding, a real estate broker with Spalding Realty who's been in Pahrump since 1994, said it's slow now, but that's only when compared to "a booming market," in 2004 and the first half of 2005.

"We always follow Las Vegas, so when they were booming, we were booming," Spalding said. "There was a period of time, about a six-month time, when they were low on inventory and that brought people out here. That was good for us. For the very first time we were getting multiple offers, prices kept going up and going up. During that period of time, lot prices doubled."

But she said it was "an unrealistic frenzy of buyers coming out here.

"What we've seen now is a slowdown, but it's a more realistic market. It's taking longer to get property sold. Sellers are holding onto their prices," Spalding said.

She said rising gas prices for that commute to Las Vegas could be a factor as well as consecutive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. Spalding said, however, interest rates are still low historically.

"The new construction is not booming like it did last year. The builders are saying it's slower than last year," Spalding said. But she added, "We're still a great deal ... when you compare it with Las Vegas."

Dennis Smith, owner of Home Builders Research in Las Vegas, said a lot of people buying property in Pahrump during 2004 and 2005 were probably investors.

"What's different around Pahrump compared to Mesquite or Boulder City is Pahrump can't have an inventory problem because there weren't that many houses built," Smith said.

He said if the large builders planning construction projects in Pahrump, like Concordia Homes, Beazer Homes, Celebrate Homes and Focus Property Group, had their builders in putting up homes last year, then there would be an inventory problem.

Edwin Baniqued






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