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Is Nevada On The Verge Of Another Housing Meltdown?

Homes prices in Nevada—that is Reno AND Las Vegas—are rising pretty fast.

The Standard & Poor National Home Price Index said in November in the last three years, home prices in Las Vegas have had the three highest annual gains.

It also said the median sales price in September in Las Vegas was a record $355,000. 

Yet, Nevada suffered greatly during the Recession, with our housing market one of the worst hit in the country. And remember what was going on before the recession—home prices were also skyrocketing.

So, should we be worried? Are we in another bubble? 

Ralph McLaughlin, the chief economist for the housing website Trulia, told KNPR's State of Nevada that the state is not in a housing bubble despite the rising housing prices. 

The main reason is that housing bubbles are caused by unexplained changes in the economy and he believes it is not likely that Nevada will see that in the near future.

He said the state is seeing strong job and population growth, which are both excellent economic indicators, along with that the housing inventory has dropped over the last two quarters.

"When you combine the fundamentals of population growth and job growth, which leads to higher demand with falling inventory that would support economic rationale for why prices rising," he said.

Support comes from

While the state may not be in a housing bubble, Jeremy Aguero with Applied Analysis said the state does have a big problem.

"We can't increase double-digit over double-digit prices every year and say that that is a safe rate of growth," he said, "We are outstripping incomes."

Aguero said much of the housing price increases over the past 10 years have been recovery from the Great Recession, but if the growth rate continues at this pace it will be a problem.

He said there is an imbalance in the market and the people who are getting squeezed are the people looking for starter or entry-level homes.

"If you go back 10 years, we had a product called 'entry-level' housing, we don't have a whole lot of that anymore," he said, "Entry-level housing is essentially older housing stock that exists in the market today."

He said that imbalance is something that is going to have to be worked through. 

Vivek Sah is the director of the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies. He said not only is there an imbalance in prices but also between Zip codes. 

89145 has the highest growth rate in the valley.

"These are suburbs that are actually growing," he said, "These numbers are three or four times the average."

Sah also pointed out that the loan to value ratio in Las Vegas is higher than the national average, which means homeowners have to pay higher mortgage insurance, squeezing lower-income homeowners even more. 



Vivek Sah, director, Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies; Jeremy Aguero, Applied Analysis; Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist, Trulia 

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KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada