HOUSING COSTS BOOST INTEREST IN LAS VEGAS

The bursting of the housing bubble has created strong demand for metropolitan areas in Nevada, pushing Vegas to number 9 on the Metro Movers Index introduced Wednesday.

These areas are where home prices have fallen by 50 percent or more, said Jed Kolko, chief economist for an online real estate listing service in San Francisco.

Las Vegas registered 1.88 on the Metro Movers Index, which means that it found nearly twice as many "inbound" home searches from outsiders as "outbound" searches by local residents.

That's typical of cities that have seen huge price declines since the bubbleburst and a high vacancy rate, so there are bargains and bargains attracting buyers from elsewhere, Kolko said, even from California. "We are seeing that very clearly from search activity on our site".

While sales of existing homes in Las Vegas more than doubled from 24,000 in 2007 to 51,000 in 2010, the median price fell 57 percent from 274,000 dollars to 118,000 over that same period.

Five of the top inbound markets to Las Vegas are from California, with Los Angeles and Orange county first and second, respectively. Although Southern California accounts for most of the home searches in Las Vegas,
35 percent of house hunters are coming from 500 or more miles away,

Honolulu, New York and Chicago are high on the inbound list. Despite having more employment opportunities, he higher cost of housing in big cities has made homes in nearby suburbs and smaller metros more attractive to home buyers and renters.

Reno came in at number 8 and at number 10 in outbound searches from Las Vegas. "You see a lot of that in larger cities, Kolko said, For Las Vegas
you see outbound searches to lower density areas to Reno and Pahrump, from Los Angeles to San Bernardino and smaller suburban areas. Real estate tends to be even cheaper in these smaller density areas".

Irv