MDA DataQuick: Las Vegas Area January Home Sales

by 25 Feb 2010


Las Vegas Metro Area January Home Sales
Las Vegas region January home sales fell more than usual from December but were still the highest for that month since 2007 thanks to relatively strong demand for condos and other sub-$200,000 homes. The overall median sale price declined from December, but one home-type category – resale single-family detached houses – showed continued signs of price stability, a real estate information service reported.
Foreclosure properties remained a powerful force in the Las Vegas market last month but their influence continued to erode gradually from last year’s record level. Foreclosure resales – homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – fell to 62.0 percent of all resales in January, down from 63.3 percent in December and 72.5 percent a year ago, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.
Foreclosure resales peaked in April 2009 at 73.7 percent of the region’s resales, and have since declined each month.
A total of 3,367 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area (Clark County) in January, down 36.7 percent from December but up 7.7 percent from a year earlier. A drop in sales between December and January is normal for the season, with the decline averaging 24.4 percent since 1994, when DataQuick’s complete Las Vegas region stats begin. Last month’s 36.7 percent decline from December is the steepest on record, though other years have seen declines greater than 30 percent.
The January sales figures reflect deals that were struck largely during the holidays – late November through early January – and that closed escrow last month. The sales data show investors and first-time buyers were some of the most committed home shoppers during that holiday period. January saw month-to-month gains in the use of low-down-payment, government-insured FHA financing, commonly used by first-time buyers, as well as gains in the percentage of absentee buyers, the percentage of homes purchased with cash and the percentage of homes that had been “flipped” (sold twice in a short period). 
January’s sales total was the highest for that month since January 2007, when 4,282 homes sold, but it was 6.7 percent lower than the average January sales tally back to 1994. Last month marked the 17 th in a row in which total sales rose on a year-over-year basis, though last month’s 7.7 percent annual increase was the smallest during that 17-month stretch.
Sales of homes priced below $200,000 made up 78.7 percent of all January transactions, compared with 77.1 percent in December and 65.7 percent in January 2009.
The number of houses and condos that resold (excludes new homes) in January fell to 3,092, down 34.5 percent from December but up 7.4 percent from a year earlier to the highest point since 3,405 resales in January 2006. Resales have risen on a year-over-year basis for 21 straight months.
Sales of newly built homes, including condos and condo conversions, fell to 275 in January, down 53.7 percent from December but up 10.4 percent from a year earlier. It was the second-slowest January for new-home sales since at least 1994.
Given the typical new home sells for more than the typical resale home, the decline in new-home sales in January helped push the overall median sale price down from December.
The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Las Vegas metro area in January was $125,750, down 2.5 percent from $129,000 in December and down 20.9 percent from $159,000 a year earlier. The year-over-year decline was the smallest since May 2008, when the median dropped 17.3 percent from a year earlier, to $239,900.
The overall median sale price has fallen on a year-over-year basis for 33 consecutive months and in January stood 59.7 percent below the peak $312,000 median in November 2006.
The median price paid for resale single-family detached houses – by far the region’s largest home-type category – held at $135,000 in January, the same as it had been since last October but down 18.2 percent from $165,000 a year earlier. The January resale house median was 56.8 percent lower than the peak $312,250 median in June 2006.
The median price paid last month for resale condos was $69,000, down from $73,000 in December and down 14.6 percent from $80,750 a year earlier. The resale condo median has been hovering a bit below or above $70,000 for the past nine months. January’s resale condo median was 66.0 percent below its $203,000 peak in July 2006.
An alternative price gauge – the median paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses – stayed parked at $76 in January. That’s the same as it’s been since last October but down 15.6 percent from $90 a year earlier. January’s figure was 60 percent below the June 2006 peak of $190 per square foot.
Meanwhile, foreclosure activity fell in January compared with December and a year ago. Public filings showed 1,667 single-family house and condo units were foreclosed on in Clark County last month, down 21.1 percent from December and down 39.2 percent from January 2009. Last month’s total was 55.2 percent lower than the monthly peak of 3,718 foreclosures in February 2009.
Foreclosure filings have seesawed month-to-month over the past year, and a single month’s rise or fall doesn’t necessarily indicate a new trend. The figures are based on the number of trustees deeds filed at the county recorder’s office.
In January, a popular form of financing used by first-time home buyers – government-insured FHA loans – accounted for 51.7 percent of all home purchase loans, up from 49.8 percent in December and 49.6 percent a year earlier. Absentee buyers purchased 43.0 percent of all Las Vegas–area homes sold in January, up from 40.3 percent in December and 33.8 percent a year earlier. January’s absentee buyers paid a median $101,000 for their homes, down from $109,836 in December and $125,000 a year earlier. Absentee buyers are often investors, but can include second-home buyers and others who, for various reasons, indicate at the time of sale that the property tax bill will go to a different address.
Buyers who appear to have used cash to purchase their homes accounted for 50.4 percent of all January sales, up from 45.5 percent in December and up from 38.8 percent a year ago, based on an analysis of public property records. The median price paid in these seemingly all-cash deals in January was $96,000. Specifically, these were transactions where there was no indication of a purchase mortgage recorded at the time of sale. Some of these “cash” buyers could have used alternative financing arrangements outside of a typical purchase mortgage, and in some cases they might be taking out mortgages after their purchases. All-cash deals have become popular in many Western markets where prices have dropped sharply and sellers favor the relative speed and certainty of cash transactions. 
The flipping of homes has become more common, too. Last month 5 percent of the homes sold had previously been sold between three weeks and six months prior, up from a flipping rate of 3.9 percent in December and 3.2 percent a year ago. 
(chart below)
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
Median price
Resale houses
Resale condos
New homes
All homes
Number of sales
Resale houses
Resale condos
New homes
All homes
Source: MDA DataQuick,



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