RENO, Nev. — Northern Nevada real estate brokers are hoping for a stable and steady residential market in 2014 after a roller coaster ride in 2013.
Home prices rose and dipped as did inventory, and brokers were swamped this spring and summer, when in August most local markets saw the numbers of homes sold hit a high not seen for at least three years.
“We were running, everyone was so busy,” says Kathy Tatro, president of the Sierra Nevada Association of Realtors and a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Select Real Estate in Carson City. “It has slowed down.”
In Carson City, for example, 62 homes sold in August and 44 sold in November. The median price ranged from $144,000 in January to $195,000 in November. Inventory peaked at six months in March and ended the year at around four months, a neutral market trending in the seller’s favor.
Tatro says the markets hit the hardest in the downturn, such as Dayton, are bouncing back the most. In Dayton, the median home price climbed throughout the year, reaching $166,000 in October before dropping to $162,000 in November, a 37 percent jump from the same month a year earlier. The number of homes on the market held steady throughout the year, just below a healthy five months of inventory.
Tatro, who says she’s still getting multiple offers on low-end properties, thinks it all bodes well for the coming year.
“2014 is going to be another good solid year,” she says. “Values will continue to go up.”
Mark Ashworth, president-elect of the Reno/Sparks Association of Realtors, says he is optimistic the market will stabilize.
In 2014, there is no new state legislation like the 2011 robo-signing bill which reduced the number of foreclosures. Federal legislation to extend debt forgiveness on short sales is still up in the air, although most Realtors believe it will not be renewed. Interest rates on mortgages are exceptionally low – under 4.5 percent for a 30-year fixed in December – and will remain a good deal even if they rise slightly, says Ashworth.
“In last 18 months, we’ve seen a very low inventory, which in turn created a greater demand and resulted in prices rising, he says.”
In November, the number of sales in Washoe County and in Reno dropped from the prior month, by 14 percent and 17 percent, respectively. But median prices continued to rise — to $224,900 in Washoe County, a 5 percent jump from October, and a 7 percent increase to $235,000 in Reno. Sparks followed the same pattern. The number of homes sold in November dropped 9 percent to 148 homes while the median price rose 11 percent to $216,450.
Lake Tahoe experienced a more volatile year, with median home prices fluctuating widely and hitting $490,000 in November. Inventory remained high, hitting 11.7 months in September and dropping to 9.5 months in November, typical in a market with higher-priced homes. The level is significantly lower than the 23-month high hit in mid-2011. In Zephyr Cove, from July to September, 17 homes sold for a median price of $371,250.
“We’re hoping prices don’t go up so quickly in 2014 and we go into more of a normal market,” says Natalie Yanish, buyer specialist with Deb Howard & Company, in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and president of South Tahoe Association of Realtors. “There’s a little bit of volatility in the market right now.”