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Las Vegas: A look at housing in Sin City

A house for sale in North Las Vegas.

Las Vegas used to be called the foreclosure capital of the nation, but the city's experiencing a turnaround of sorts. Last month, it dropped to No. 6 on RealtyTrac's list of cities burdened by foreclosures. So what's behind the shifting market in Sin City? Continuing our series on the country's housing, we turned to Kolleen Kelley, president-elect of the Nevada Association of Realtors.

"We're suffering from a shortage of inventory. Very much a seller's market at this point. Buyers are making multiple offers on properties. We have a lot of foreign investors coming in," says Kelley.

Kelley says the median price of a house in Las Vegas is about $150,000 -- for a three bedroom, two bath house. She says houses are in various states of disrepair. Some houses are good, others have been sitting for long periods of time and have been vandalized.

"More than half of our market is short sales. That's a good thing for sellers as opposed to being foreclosed on," says Kelley. "There is some optimism, certainly, within the marketplace because our prices have risen here almost 27 percent in a year."

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Kelley says investors make up a large portion of the market. As a Las Vegas realtor for more than two decades, Kelley has seen her fair share of changes in the market. "But this particularly was the perfect storm. With the housing market declining so quickly and unemployment going up, and construction stopping in mid-stream, and financing -- it was everything all at one time," she says.

Now, she is hoping that the real estate market in Las Vegas will return to normal -- after experiencing record real estate sales the past couple of years.

About the author

In more than 20 years in public radio, Barbara Bogaev has served as the longtime guest host of NPR’s flagship program Fresh Air with Terry Gross, as well as host of APM’s news and culture magazine, Weekend America and the weekly national documentary series, Soundprint.
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