Residential sales, prices, construction all picking up

The residential real estate market in Carson City keeps improving.

In the second quarter this year, 161 homes sold for a median price of $175,000, according to the Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors, which tracks sales in the capital and parts of Douglas County. That’s a 37 percent jump in homes sold and 10 percent boost in the price from the first three months of 2013, when 117 homes sold at a median price of $159,000.

That encouraging data follows an upbeat 2012, when the number of houses sold increased 12 percent from the year earlier, although the median price dropped slightly to $130,000.

“It is definitely positive,” says Kathy Tatro, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Select Real Estate in Carson City. “I think it started changing at the end of last year.”

That’s when demand at the low end began to heat up and sellers started receiving multiple offers on homes priced under $250,000. Higher priced homes, meanwhile, remained mired in a slow market.

The good news now, evidenced by a continual quarterly jump in median prices, is that interest is spreading across the board.

“Every price range is picking up,” says Heidi McFadden, president of Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors and an agent with Realty Executives, who last week closed the sale of a historic home near the Governor’s Mansion which had languished on and off the market for several years.

“Prices are creeping up, although it’s not a huge jump compared to how low we went,” says McFadden. “I’ve talked to a lot of other Realtors and they’re pretty optimistic about the rest of the year.”

Inventory is down, even bumping up building activity in the city, which is already probably the most land-constrained town in northern Nevada outside Lake Tahoe.

“It’s been a good year,” says Sam Landis, owner of Ridgeline Development LLC, a Carson City builder.

Landis has been busy building homes at Silver Oak, a residential development in northwest Carson. He says three months ago he finished off 13 lots and has already sold all but two.

The mid-to-high priced development has hundreds of unfinished lots, but Landis says he is being cautious about getting ahead of demand before preparing more space for construction.

“I saw other developers who got greedy and finished lots and went bankrupt,” says Landis, referring to Nevada’s recent building boom. “I’m waiting to see if this thing has legs. We’re watching interest rates. And we’ve got plenty of work right now.”

Mortgage rates are creeping up. Last week the rate on a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.37 percent, a full point higher than the average two months before.

And unemployment in the capital is stagnantly high at 10.1 percent, according to data for June released by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Foreclosures are down, though, and inventory is low. In Nevada, foreclosures dropped 84 percent in June from the previous month, according to RealtyTrac, which doesn’t break out data for different areas of the state.

“Nationally inventory is low and there are rumors of a shadow inventory,” says McFadden, referring to additional, unaccounted homes that are awaiting foreclosure to come on the market. “Who knows, but we’ve definitely seen foreclosures slow down.”


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