Las Vegas Region December Home Sales

Las Vegas-area home sales rose year-over-year for the sixth consecutive month in December as increased activity below $200,000 continued to compensate for a decline in sales in higher price ranges. Home prices remained flat, with the overall median sale price parked at $115,000 for the fourth month in a row, a real estate information service reported.


In December, 4,823 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area (Clark County). That was up 8.1 percent from November and up 3.0 percent from December 2010, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.


A rise in sales between November and December is normal, given some buyers, especially investors, want to close their deals by the end of the year for tax purposes. On average, sales have risen 12.5 percent between those two months since 1994, when DataQuick’s complete Las Vegas region statistics begin.


In December, the number of homes that resold rose 1.7 percent on a year-over-year basis, marking the 12th consecutive month in which resales have posted an annual gain. It was the highest number of resales for a December since 2009, and the second-highest since 2005. December sales of newly-built homes also rose from a year earlier, by 15.6 percent, but were still the second-lowest on record for a December. New-home sales have risen year-over-year for six consecutive months.


Total sales in December were 9.1 percent lower than the average number of homes sold in that month since 1994, while resale activity (excludes new homes) was 33.1 percent above average for a December. 


In all of 2011 a total of 55,409 new and resale houses and condos sold in the Las Vegas area, up 6.6 percent from 2010 and the highest since 55,522 sales in 2009. Last year’s total sales were the second-highest since 2006, when 80,388 sold. Over the past 10 years an average of 66,812 homes have sold annually. Resales totaled 49,926 in 2011, up 8.6 percent from 2010 but slightly below the 50,184 resales in 2009. However, 2011 resales were the second-highest for any year since 2005, when 61,016 homes resold.


Continuing a months-long trend, December sales were strongest in the lower price ranges. The number of transactions below $100,000 climbed 17.8 percent from a year earlier and made up 42.0 percent of all deals, compared with 36.6 percent of all sales in December 2010. The number of December sales below $200,000 rose 4.9 percent year-over-year, while the number above $200,000 fell 5.1 percent from a year earlier. Above $300,000 sales fell 14.1 percent from December 2010. 


The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Las Vegas metro area in December was $115,000, the same as in November and virtually the same as each month since September last year. The December median was 7.3 percent lower than the $124,000 median in December 2010, and marked the 15th consecutive month in which the median has fallen year-over-year.


The December 2011 median was 63.1 percent short of the peak $312,000 median in November 2006.


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; extraordinarily 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).


December’s new-home sales represented 11.1 percent of all transactions, compared with a monthly average of 28.3 percent of all sales over the last decade. December’s condo sales represented 18.1 percent of total Las Vegas sales, compared with a 10-year monthly average of 13.8 percent.


An alternative home-price gauge – the median paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses – dipped slightly in December to $65, down 1.5 percent from November and down 9.7 percent from a year earlier. December’s figure was the lowest since at least 1994 and was 65.8 percent below the peak $190 paid per square foot in May and June 2006.


In December, cash buyers purchased more than half – 50.9 percent – of the Las Vegas-area homes that sold. That was up from a cash-buyer share of 48.9 percent of sales in November and 50.6 percent a year earlier. The record was 56.7 percent in February 2011. Cash purchases are where there is no corresponding purchase mortgage in the public record.


Cash buyers in December paid a median $81,180 for a home in the Las Vegas area, down from $82,000 in November and down from $89,250 a year earlier.


Absentee buyers – mainly investors and vacation-home buyers – purchased a near-record 47.2 percent of all homes sold in December. That compares with 46.1 percent in November, 45.9 percent a year ago and a record 49.9 percent in March 2011. Absentee buyers paid a median $95,000 in December, up from $90,000 in November but down 7.8 percent from $103,000 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” – again made up around two-thirds of the Las Vegas resale market.


Foreclosure resales – homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 52.4 percent of the Las Vegas resale market in December – the same as in November and down from 56.3 percent a year earlier. Foreclosure resales peaked at 73.7 percent of the resale market in April 2009. The December and November level was the lowest since September 2010, when foreclosure resales made up 50.8 percent of the resale market.


Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 13.8 percent of the resale market in December. That compares with an estimated 14.8 percent in November, 19.5 percent a year ago, and 12.8 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 December, lenders filed 921 NODs, down 28.1 percent from the 1,281 filed in November and down 81.9 percent from the 5,125 NODs filed in December 2010. 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 December fell from both November and a year earlier. Lenders foreclosed on 1,744 single-family house and condo units in December, down 9.7 percent from November and down 22.6 percent from a year earlier.


In all of 2011, however, lenders foreclosed on 32,730 house and condo units in Clark County, up 12.8 percent from 2010. The peak year was 2009, when 33,833 homes were lost to foreclosure. The figures are based on the number of Trustees Deeds filed at the county recorder’s office.




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Source: DataQuick/