Real Estate 2012—So Far, So Strange

This is the year we’ve learned to use the terms “foreclosure glut” and “bidding war” in the same sentence. What gives? We review the, uh, bidding in this zaniest of markets:

AB 284: Known as “the robo-signing law” in real estate circles, the bill took effect in October and has banks grappling with stricter foreclosure laws and just saying “no” to taking back homes from owners.

Inventory slide: The slowdown in both new foreclosures and in the processing of old ones (see “shadow inventory,” below) means fewer homes on the market. The roughly 11,000 available homes without offers on any given day in 2011 has shrunk to below 4,000. Bidding wars are back in style.

Appreciation: With fewer homes on the market, prices have climbed 5.9 percent since last summer, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors (GLVAR). But experts say it may not last.

Shadow Inventory: The Valley has seen increases in the number of default notices this year (there were 628 in June, up from 52 in October), but trustee-sale notices are still above 1,000, indicating banks are dumping inventory they’ve been holding for a while. Nonetheless, Las Vegas real estate expert Anthony Martin estimates that 30,000 to 40,000 of these homes—essentially, houses stuck in limbo in the foreclosure process—are still in the system.

Cash: About 54 percent of homes purchased locally are bought with cash, according to the GLVAR. It seems there’s no shortage of people wanting to buy our homes and rent them back to us.

SLS, Linq, Wheels: On the commercial side of things, there is, thankfully, more to report than the 86 percent drop in commercial land values since the boom years. The $300 million renovation/rebranding of the former Sahara and Caesars’ $550 million Linq entertainment complex are the year’s biggest real estate development stories. But let’s not forget the Stupak-reminiscent concrete stumps on the still-not-completely-funded SkyVue observation wheel on the south Strip.