Real estate experts say Washoe County's housing market is growing at a healthy pace. Countywide, 6,308 existing family homes were sold. That is an increase of 6% from 2014. Prices are also on the upswing, with a 2015 median home price of $280,000. That price was $294,866, in Reno, and $260,000 in Sparks. The inventory is about 2.8, meaning the market would run out of homes for sale in 2.8 months if no others would put on the market. A level inventory is 5-7 months.
"We have low supply," William Process, President of Reno/Sparks Association of Realtors said. "It's a seller's market. They can dictate the terms and it's causing an increase in pricing because when buyers are looking, there's not a lot to look at."
Whether the rise in home prices is good or bad news depends on your perspective.
"If you're looking at it from the perspective of the average income, it's not so good news," Process said. "Looking at it from a person who's looking to sell their home, yeah, it's good news."
The median household income is $54,000 per year. That kind of income could qualify a buyer for a home, worth about $225,000. That is well below today's median home price.
"The average sale price, right now, is somewhere around $290,000 to $291,000," Process said. "So, just not a lot of people being able to buy right now, if you have an average income."
Despite that gap, home sales and prices are expected to trend upward in 2016. Process says a 5% increase is possible.
"We're also expecting interest rates to climb up to near 5%," Process said. "So, we are expecting the affordability to drop even more."
Still, buyers with an average income could still buy a home. Process says they might have to drive to an area that they would qualify though.
"There are homes in the Fernley market," Process said. "There's some homes in the North Valleys/Stead area that are in that price range and people can buy in those areas yet."
The low volume of inventory is also having an impact on new home sales. Process says more people might be buying from a developer, because there aren't enough existing homes available. However, he says that does not affect buyers with average income because new homes typically sell for a higher price than the median.