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Las Vegas Home Sales Up Again in December

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

LA JOLLA, Calif. ( DQNews) -- 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% from November and up 3% from December 2010, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.

In December, the number of homes that resold rose 1.7% 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%, 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% lower than the average number of homes sold in that month since 1994, while resale activity (excludes new homes) was 33.1% above average for a December.

Continuing a months-long trend, December sales were strongest in the lower price ranges. The number of transactions below $100,000 climbed 17.8% from a year earlier and made up 42.0% of all deals, compared with 36.6% of all sales in December 2010. The number of December sales below $200,000 rose 4.9% year-over-year, while the number above $200,000 fell 5.1% from a year earlier. Above $300,000 sales fell 14.1% 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% lower than the $124,000 median in December 2010, and marked the 15th consecutive month in which the median has fallen year-over-year.

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