Chick James, broker and owner of Realty Executives Nevada's Choice, has a simple reason for being optimistic about Carson City's housing market in 2012: The investors are biting.
Investors usually warm up to the market before the general public does, he said, and they usually come with cash in hand.
"It is kind of telling you something that the investors think we are at the bottom of the market," James said.
And nationwide figures released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors seem to back up James' gut.
The pending home sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings but not closings, jumped more than 7 percent between October and November to hit its highest mark since April 2010. That's when buyers swarmed the housing market before the homebuyer's tax credit expired.
The indicator is also almost 6 percent over what it was in November 2010.
"Housing affordability conditions are at a record high, and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who've been on the sidelines, but contract failures have been running unusually high," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the realtors association, in a release. "Some of the increase in pending home sales appears to be from buyers recommitting after an initial contract ran into problems, often with the mortgage."
The indicator also gave Yun reason to believe that more important final sales on existing homes will increase in the months ahead.
In Carson City, the total sales jumped 26 percent in 2011, according to the Northern Nevada Regional MLS, a real estate information center. But, the same data show average sale price was down 11 percent.
James, of the Carson City Realty Executives, said he saw homes selling at a faster-than-usual pace this year. He thinks next year will see both the sales numbers and prices rise.
"Interest rates continue to be low and with the bargain prices, it is a great time to buy property in Carson City," he wrote in an email.
However, fixed mortgage rates rose slightly this week off their record lows.
Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average on the 30-year home loan increased to 3.95 percent from 3.91 percent. Last week's rate was the lowest average on records dating to the 1950s.
The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage rose to 3.24 percent. That's up from 3.21 percent, also a record low.
To calculate the average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country Monday through Wednesday of each week. The average rates don't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
The average fee for the 30-year loan was unchanged at 0.7; the average on the 15-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 0.8.
For the five-year adjustable loan, the average rate rose to 2.88 percent from 2.85 percent. The average on the one-year adjustable loan ticked up to 2.78 percent from 2.77 percent.
The average fees on the five- and one-year adjustable-rate loans were unchanged at 0.6.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.