LAS VEGAS (DQNews) -- Home sales in the Las Vegas area jumped to the highest level for an August in five years, the result of a relatively long month for escrows closings and robust buying by investors and first-time buyers in the sub-$150,000 market. Home prices seemed to trend sideways to downward last month, with the median sale price dropping to its lowest level in more than 16 years, a real estate information service reported.In August, 5,412 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area (Clark County), up 19.3% from July and up 26.4% from August 2010, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records. On average, the region's sales have risen 6.3% between July and August since 1994, when DataQuick's complete Las Vegas region statistics begin. August is typically one of the stronger sales months of the year, largely because many families want to move before school starts in late summer. Last month's sales picture changes a bit when viewed in terms of the average number of homes sold daily. That's because August had 23 business days on which home sales could be recorded, compared with 20 business days in July and 22 in August 2010. The average number of homes sold daily last month rose only 3.8% from July and rose 20.9% year-over-year (vs. the 19.3% month-to-month gain and the 26.4% annual gain for the total number of homes sold in the month). One reason it's getting easier to beat the year-ago sales numbers: Home sales fell off sharply beginning early last summer as federal and state homebuyer tax credits expired. Last month's sales total was 5.3% higher than the average number of homes sold in August since 1994. The new-home market remained very slow by historical standards, but resale activity rose year-over-year for the eighth consecutive month, boosted by robust first-time buyer as well as investor and cash-only purchases. In August, a popular form of low-down-payment financing for first-time home buyers - government-insured FHA loans - accounted for 39.9% of all home purchase loans. That was down from 42.1% in July and down from 46.6% a year earlier and a peak of 55.1% in September 2008.