Housing market heats up | RecordCourier.com

Housing market heats up

by Scott Neuffer
Shannon Litz/The Record-Courier

After five years of stolid recession, the housing market in Carson Valley is heating up quickly in both sales of existing homes and new construction.

“It’s exceptional,” said Jim Valentine, an agent with Re/Max Realty Affiliates in Gardnerville. “It’s been sustained now for several months. It started turning in late November, early December. There is very little inventory. Properties priced well are selling within a day or two with multiple offers.”

Valentine described a bull market in which some buyers are panicking.

“It’s very competitive,” he said. “Buyers in some instances are frustrated, and we’re starting to see panic buying because people are worried they won’t get a home before things get too high.”

In the first quarter of 2013, the average sales price of a home in the East Fork Township, which stretches from the north end of the Valley to Topaz Lake, hit $275,327 — a 28 percent leap in value from the same quarter last year, when the average price was $215,410, and a 14 percent rise sequentially from the last quarter of 2012, which saw an average price of $241,461.

The latest figure represents the highest average sales price in any quarter since 2009.

Likewise, the median sales price in the first quarter of the year hit $224,200, compared to $169,950 in the same quarter last year and $190,000 in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Total sales in the East Fork Township for the first quarter came in at 157, compared to 163 in the same quarter last year, and 207 in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The decreasing number of sales may reflect the shrinking inventory in Carson Valley. A total of 806 sales in 2012, the highest annual number since 2005, helped clear bargain inventory off the market. Bank-owned homes are now harder to find, and, according to the Multiple Listing Service, many short sale properties priced below market value already have pending offers.

“As existing home sales and prices increase, inventory decreases, and pressure is created for new construction,” County Manager Steve Mokrohisky said in an email.

Housing projects stalled in the recession are now picking up steam. In the first quarter of this year, the county issued eight single-family residential building permits for the Ranch at Gardnerville, and five permits for the Monterra subdivision near Minden Elementary School.

In total, the county has issued 22 permits this year alone, including two at Jobs Peak Ranch, and one each at West Fork Vista, La Costa, Billy’s Road, Rocky Terrace, Saratoga Springs, Foothill Road, and the Ranchos.

For the fiscal year to date, which began in July, the county has issued 48 single-family permits, well below triple-digit highs seen in the real estate boom of the early millennium, but still 28 percent above a total of 38 permits issued in fiscal year 2011-12.

“We are already well above last year’s permits with another three months to go in the current fiscal year,” Mokrohisky said.

Valentine said that more buyers are turning to new construction.

“We’ve seen many inquiries on vacant land,” he said. “We’re seeing people looking to new construction now when it wasn’t much of an option a few years ago. We’re getting to the point where, if there’s no resale left, people will be looking to build. I do believe we’ll see much more building this summer.”

Valentine said that changes in supply and demand have completely changed the dynamics of the market in a short period of time.

For example, he said, homeowners hesitant about selling in the past are now bewildered by the pace of the market.

“They’re afraid they won’t have anywhere to go,” he said.

But Valentine doesn’t believe the bull market will lead to another bubble.

“Listen to your agent, be patient, and make sure you get what you want,” he said.