Las Vegas Region January Home Sales; median price sank to lowest point since 1994

by 28 Feb 2012

Las Vegas Housing Stats for January 2012The number of homes sold in the Las Vegas area last month was the highest for a January in five years thanks to robust sales below $200,000, and especially under $100,000. The median price paid sank to its lowest point since April 1994 as distressed property sales made up two-thirds of all resale activity and investor purchases reached a near-record level, a real estate information service reported.

In January, 4,038 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area (Clark County). That was down 16.6 percent from December but up 8.5 percent from January 2011, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.


A sharp drop in sales between December and January is normal. On average, sales have fallen 23.7 percent between those two months since 1994, when DataQuick’s complete Las Vegas region statistics begin.


In January, the number of homes that resold rose 7.0 percent on a year-over-year basis, marking the 13th consecutive month in which resales have posted an annual gain. It was the highest number of resales for a January since 2005. January sales of newly-built homes also rose from a year earlier, by 26.3 percent, and were the highest for that month since 2008, but they remained far below average. New-home sales have risen year-over-year for seven consecutive months.


Total January sales were 15.6 percent higher than the average number of homes sold in that month since 1994, while resale activity (excludes new homes) was 55.5 percent above average for a January. 


Continuing a months-long trend, January sales were strongest in the lower price ranges. The number of transactions below $100,000 shot up 26.0 percent compared with a year earlier and represented 44.6 percent of all deals, compared with 38.4 percent of all sales in January 2011. The number of January 2012 sales below $200,000 rose 11.2 percent year-over-year, while the number above $200,000 fell 3.2 percent from a year earlier. January sales above $300,000 fell 9.1 percent compared with a year ago. 


The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Las Vegas metro area in January was $110,000, down 4.3 percent from $115,000 in December and down 7.6 percent from $119,000 in January 2011. The January 2012 median, which was the lowest since the median was also $110,000 in April 1994, was 64.7 percent below the November 2006 peak of $312,000. The median has fallen on a year-over-year basis for 16 consecutive months.


The median’s recent decline to levels not seen since the mid 1990s can be attributed to several factors: home price depreciation; robust sales of low-cost foreclosures; robust sales to investors, who mainly target low-cost properties; historically low new-home sales (new homes tend to sell for more than resale homes); and higher-than-usual condo resales (condos tend to be the least expensive homes).


January's new-home sales represented 9.4 percent of all transactions, compared with a monthly average of 28.0 percent of all sales over the last decade. January’s condo sales represented 17.7 percent of total Las Vegas sales, compared with a 10-year monthly average of 13.9 percent.


An alternative home-price gauge – the median paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses – dipped again in January, to $64, down 1.5 percent from December and down 8.6 percent from a year earlier. January’s figure was the lowest since at least 1994 and was 66.3 percent below the peak $190 paid per square foot in May and June 2006.


In January, cash buyers purchased 53.7 percent of the Las Vegas-area homes that sold. That was up from a cash-buyer share of 50.9 percent of sales in December and down from 54.5 percent a year earlier. The record was 56.7 percent in February 2011. Cash purchases are where there is no sign of a corresponding purchase mortgage in the public record. 

Cash buyers in January paid a median $80,000 for a home in the Las Vegas area, down from $81,000 in December and down from $92,250 a year earlier. 

Absentee buyers – mainly investors and vacation-home buyers – purchased a near-record 49.1 percent of all homes sold in January. That compares with 47.2 percent in December, 49.2 percent a year earlier and a record 49.9 percent in March 2011. Absentee buyers paid a median $90,000 in January, down from $95,000 in December and down 10.0 percent from $100,000 a year earlier. Absentee buyers are those who indicated at the time of sale that the property tax bill will go to a different address.

Distressed property sales – the combination of foreclosure resales and “short sales” – made two-thirds of the Las Vegas resale market.


Foreclosure resales – homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 52.6 percent of the Las Vegas resale market in January. That was up slightly from 52.3 percent in December but down from 54.7 percent a year ago. Foreclosure resales peaked at 73.7 percent of the resale market in April 2009.


Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 13.9 percent of the resale market in January. That compares with an estimated 13.7 percent in December, 14.4 percent a year ago, and 13.6 percent two years ago.  

In the wake of a new Nevada law that creates additional requirements for lenders trying to foreclose on properties, the number of notices of default (“NODs”) filed in Clark County plummeted in recent months. In January, lenders filed 1,048 NODs, up 13.8 percent from the 921 filed in December but down 80.9 percent from the 5,497 NODs filed in January 2011. The notice of default is the first step in the formal foreclosure process.


The number of homes lost to foreclosure in the Las Vegas region in January rose from December but fell well below a year earlier. Lenders foreclosed on 1,960 single-family house and condo units in January, up 11.9 percent from December but down 26.3 percent from a year earlier.

      (chart below)


Las Vegas-Paradise, NV


Median sale price





YOY %Change

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Resale condos





New homes





All homes






Number of sales





YOY %Change

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Resale condos





New homes





All homes






Source: DataQuick/



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