New-home sales in Las Vegas slowing, but still up from last year

The Las Vegas home construction market softened last month compared to August, but overall, things remain stronger than last year.

Southern Nevada builders sold 626 new homes in September, down 18 percent from August but up 6 percent from September 2012, according to a new report from Las Vegas-based Home Builders Research.

August’s tally of 763 sales was the highest one-month total of the year.

The median price of September’s transactions was $269,474, up 1 percent from August but up 35 percent from last September.

Meanwhile, local builders pulled 490 new-home permits in September, the lowest one-month total of the year. That tally was down 27 percent from August but up 11 percent from a year ago, Home Builders Research President Dennis Smith reported.

Overall, builders have sold 5,653 new homes this year through September, up 52 percent from the same period in 2012.

“That is a very strong annual change that clearly suggests new housing has recovered from the recessionary doldrums of the past four years,” Smith said.

Additionally, this year’s permit total is now 5,547, up 25 percent from the same period last year.

Smith also said in the report that banks, facing new rules that can make it harder to seize distressed homes, are drastically cutting foreclosure efforts.

Just 50 notices of default were filed through Oct. 7 this month, he reported. By comparison, 934 notices were filed on Sept. 30 alone, the largest one-day total ever for Clark County, according to LV Default, a Las Vegas research firm.

Notices of default start the foreclosure process.

The torrent — and subsequent drop-off — in filings came as Nevada’s “Homeowner’s Bill of Rights” took effect Oct. 1. The law, Senate Bill 321, might stretch out the foreclosure process and make it easier to avoid foreclosure through renegotiating a loan or completing a short sale, in which a bank agrees to sell a house for less than what’s owed on the mortgage.

The law bars bankers from trying to seize a person’s home while pursuing a short sale at the same time, and it forces lenders to provide homeowners with foreclosure prevention options and other information before seizing a house.