Las Vegas-area home sales rose to a six-year high for the month of May as the number of transactions above $200,000 increased sharply from last year, making up for fairly flat sales for lower-cost properties. With foreclosure resales at the lowest level since late 2007, the median sale price rose above a year earlier for the second consecutive month, reaching a 17-month high, a real estate information service reported.
In May, 4,829 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area (Clark County). That was up 6.1 percent from a revised 4,550 the month before and up 5.7 percent from 4,570 sales a year earlier, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.
On average, sales have risen 5.0 percent between April and May since 1994, when DataQuick’s complete Las Vegas region statistics begin. May sales were 0.4 percent below the average number of homes sold during all months of May since 1994, and were the highest for a May since May 2006, when 7,615 homes sold.
Last month 4,246 homes resold (excludes newly built homes), up 5.1 percent from the prior month and up 2.8 percent year-over-year. Resales were 29.1 percent above average for the month of May.
May’s 583 sales of newly-built homes represented a 32.8 percent year-over-year gain, marking the 11th consecutive month to post an annual increase. It was the highest new-home total for a May since May 2008, when 943 new homes closed escrow. However, last month’s new-home sales were still nearly 63 percent below average for all months of May since 1994.
In the overall market, the higher price categories posted May’s largest year-over-year sales gains, while activity was close to flat or down a bit in the lower price segments. The total number of homes that sold for less than $100,000 fell 0.2 percent last month compared with a year earlier – a sign sub-$100,000 deals are getting harder to come by. The number of homes that sold for less than $200,000 last month rose 2.0 percent from a year earlier, while the number that sold between $200,000 and $500,000 rose 19.6 percent. The number of sales above $500,000 rose 50.8 percent compared with a year earlier. (The over-$500,000 market only accounts for about 2 percent of total sales).
The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Las Vegas metro area in May was $122,000 – the highest since the median was $124,000 in December 2010. Last month’s median rose 2.5 percent from $119,000 the prior month and rose 4.3 percent from $117,000 a year earlier.
May was the fourth consecutive month to post a month-to-month gain in the median, and it was the second in a row with a year-over-year increase. Prior to this April, the median hadn’t risen year-over-year since June 2010.
Last month’s 4.3 percent annual rise in the median was at least in part a reflection of the substantial drop in the share of all resales that were foreclosed properties, which tend to carry significant discounts and be concentrated in lower-cost areas. Other price measures, such as the median price paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses, showed either a smaller gain or a small year-over-year decline.
Last month’s $122,000 overall median price was 60.9 percent below the November 2006 peak of $312,000. In recent months the median has been rising off a cyclical low point of $110,000 this January – the lowest level since the median was also $110,000 in April 1994.
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).
May's new-home sales represented 12.1 percent of all transactions, compared with a monthly average of about 27 percent of all sales over the last decade. May’s condo sales represented 16.1 percent of total Las Vegas sales, compared with a 10-year monthly average of about 14 percent.
An alternative home-price gauge – the median paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses – was $68 in May, up 1.5 percent from $67 the month before but down 1.4 percent from $69 a year earlier. (This January’s $64 median per square foot was the lowest since at least 1994.) The May figure was 64.2 percent lower than the peak $190 paid per square foot in May and June 2006.
Last month absentee buyers – mainly investors and vacation-home buyers – purchased a near-record 48.8 percent of all Las Vegas-area homes sold. That compares with 50.5 percent the month before and 46.2 percent a year earlier. The peak was 51.2 percent this March. Absentee buyers paid a median $100,000 last month, up from $96,000 the prior month and up 2.0 percent from $98,000 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.
Cash buyers purchased 53.3 percent of the Las Vegas-area homes that sold last month. That was down from a cash-buyer share of 53.6 percent of total sales the month before and up from 53.0 percent a year earlier. The peak was 56.7 percent in February 2011. Cash purchases are where there is no sign of a corresponding purchase mortgage in the public record. Last month’s cash buyers paid a median $95,000, up from $89,900 the prior month and up 6.7 percent from $89,000 a year earlier.
Distressed property sales – the combination of foreclosure resales and “short sales” – continued to trend downward last month, representing about 53 percent of the resale market. That’s down from about 59 percent the month before and 68 percent a year earlier.
Foreclosure resales – homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months – accounted for 39.0 percent of Las Vegas resale activity in May. That compares with 44.3 percent the month before and 54.9 percent a year earlier. Foreclosure resales peaked at 73.7 percent of the resale market in April 2009. Last month’s figure was the lowest for any month since December 2007, when foreclosure resales were 31.3 percent of all resales.
Short sales – transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property – made up an estimated 13.7 percent of the resale market last month. That compares with an estimated 14.6 percent the prior month and 13.1 percent a year 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 has plummeted in recent months. In May, lenders filed 1,344 NODs, up 5.0 percent from a revised 1,280 the prior month and down 66.9 percent from 4,056 a year earlier. The notice of default is the first step in the formal foreclosure process.
Lenders foreclosed on 905 homes in the Las Vegas region in May, down 29.2 percent from the month before and down 76.3 percent from a year earlier. Between January and May this year, lenders foreclosed on 7,261 single-family house and condo units, down 54.0 percent from the same period last year.
A form of low-down-payment financing that’s popular with first-time home buyers – government-insured FHA loans – accounted for 40.6 percent of all home purchase loans last month. That was up from 36.3 percent the prior month and down from 42.4 percent a year earlier. The current cycle’s peak for FHA use was 55.1 percent of all purchase loans in September 2008.
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
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