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Las Vegas Appreciation Slows

But Housing Demand Remains High

By Jennifer Shubinksi / Staff Writer 

For Debbie Huber, tracking the nuances in the Las Vegas real estate market is not just her job, it's her passion.

Huber is president of the Nevada Commission of Appraisers, owner of Huber Appraisal Inc. and owner and founder, along with her husband, Dan, of Home Pride Inspections.

During her 18 years as an appraiser in Las Vegas, she has seen changes in the market, good and bad, the irrational and the mundane.

"We have been fortunate here that we've never experienced a downturn ever," Debbie Huber said during an interview at her office, which also doubles as a music studio for her husband, a Realtor by day and musician by night.

One of the reasons for the healthy housing market of homes for sale in Las Vegas over the years has been the area's economy and job growth, said Huber, who was speaking as an appraiser, not as a commissioner.

"There are a lot of things that keep bringing people here," she said.

In order to better analyze trends in the resale market, Huber began tracking seven houses throughout the Las Vegas Valley since the beginning of 2004.

The properties are her rental properties and are spread throughout the valley in master-planned communities and older neighborhoods. The houses are a variety of sizes and price ranges, from entry level to $500,000.

Huber assesses the properties every quarter according to Las Vegas zip codes to see how the value of each house has changed and how that reflects market trends.

"It has reflected what we've seen in a lot of our day-to-day work," she said.

As with most of the valley, the seven houses experienced the most appreciation in 2004, when houses in Las Vegas were hotter than a car dashboard in August.

The houses appreciated about 3 percent a month through most of 2004, and toward the end of the year, that appreciation started to level off.

Through 2005 there was still appreciation, but not like what was seen in the previous year.

"It was a much slower rate, 0.5 percent to 1 percent a month," Huber said.

By the end of 2005 and into 2006, appreciation has trended flat, based on her survey of the seven homes, she said.

The most inconsistencies and potential decreases in values for houses has been in the price category $500,000 to $800,000.

"In the $500,000 to $800,000 range people have more ability to sit tight," she said.

Because that price range has had fewer sales recently, it has also been more challenging to appraise those types of houses," Huber said.

For the overall market, while appreciation has slowed, demand has remained solid, Huber said.

"That's what we had before 2004, it just wasn't very sensational," she said.

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