A Title Vegas Can’t Give Up: The Underwater Mortgage Capital of the World

The Las Vegas Real Estate Apocalypse (my term) is thankfully in the rear view mirror on the I-15. Or is it?

Not for the 132,352 homeowners in Las Vegas who still have a mortgage in their name that are higher than what their home is worth — even though prices have risen geometrically in the last three years. That number comes from Attom Data Solutions for the fourth quarter of 2016.

That fiture represents 22.7 percent of the mortgages in Sin City. We rank the highest of the 88 metro areas Attom studied. The national average is 9.6.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch

The good news for us Las Vegas locals: that number is down 17 percent from last year and 55 percent from the second quarter of 2013, when Attom started collecting the numbers. But I was here then and I can assure you that number was a lot higher in the fourth quarter of 2011, which turned out to be the historic bottom of the Apocalypse.

For reference, at the height of the boom, the median price of single-family homes in Las Vegas was $315,000. That was March 2006. The low was January 2012 when the same house was worth $118,000. (These numbers come from the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.) You were buying the land and one bathroom — the rest of the house was free.

Last month the median price was $239,700.

My sage advice: If you can hold on, hold on. The numbers are moving up in a slow-and healthy-fashion. If not, strategically give up. Save all the money you can when you aren’t paying your house payment. In seven years you can start again.