Housing Numbers Spark Cautious Optimism

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After 5 straight months of increasing sales, local realtors can finally allow themselves some cautious optimism.

The encouraging numbers are in the sales of existing single family homes. Sales are up in Reno Sparks and the county by as much as 45 percent from the first quarter. Much of that increase is seasonal and to be expected, but the June sales numbers also show good increases from a year ago, at least in Sparks and the county.

What's happening? Well, the news is not all good for those selling their homes. Values have dropped 30 percent or so in the past 2 years. Today the median sales price for a single family home in Reno is about $320,000, down 18 percent from a year ago. In Sparks, there's been a 13 percent drop and 18 percent in the county.

A drop in prices is reintroducing affordability and stoking sales. "At some point it gets too compelling," say Capurro. "and they have to leave the sidelines."

Looking ahead, he sees at least a moderate recovery continuing in the months ahead. "I'm not sure we can say we've seen the bottom yet. But if these trends continue we should see it in the months ahead and then we'll see prices begin to recover. I don't see anything like what we saw in 2004 and 2005, but better times. Better than we've had. It's been a tough three years."

One caution: The realtors' figures are based on sales on the multiple listing service. Another report from the University's Center for Regional Studies released today shows declining numbers from last year. That report includes foreclosures, sales by owners and significantly, new home sales, of which there are very few.