Southern Nevada - like Green Valley, Summerlin, Henderson, Spring Valley and Eldorado - was rapidly pricing itself out of the housing market a few years ago. The recent unforgettable boom pushed home values way past the average household income, forcing many to buy property with flexible mortgages that they really couldn't afford, or leaving others out of the market altogether.
That was the flavor of the Las Vegas real estate scene then. Things, fortunately, have changed drastically from those days.
BusinessWeek.com and a research shop Reis made some advanced calculations to rank the top 20 cheapest housing markets in the whole nation. The study actually compared how much it costs to own and maintain a home vs. renting one. Reis put these figures together from its own second quarter rent statistics and from Zillow.com's second quarter home price records. And the envelope, please.
Vegas fought its way to the 11th spot on the list. The own-versus-rent equation here has greatly narrowed now as prices have taken a major pounding, largely on account of oversupply and mortgage foreclosures, and home loan rates have remained nice and low. According to this report the own/rent ratio in Southern Nevada is 131%. If the figure is below 100%, it's cheaper to own a home than rent. In any case, at 131% it's a bit more expensive to own a place today, but the difference is now rather manageable.
Las Vegas has become once again an affordable place to own a home in. Like it used to be not that long ago. First-time home buyers are having a time of their lives picking and choosing moderately-priced property from a huge inventory, often using an FHA mortgage loan that offers a low down payment option and reasonable underwriting criteria. They may also qualify for the first-time buyer's tax credit of up to $8,000.
By the way, the top three places on this most affordable list went to Detroit, Pittsburgh and Rochester. N.Y.