LA JOLLA, Calif. ( DQNews)The number of homes sold in the Las Vegas area last month was the highest for a January in five years thanks to robust sales below $200,000, and especially under $100,000. The median price paid sank to its lowest point since April 1994 as distressed property sales made up two-thirds of all resale activity and investor purchases reached a near-record level, a real estate information service reported. In January, 4,038 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area (Clark County). That was down 16.6% from December but up 8.5% from January 2011, according to San Diego-based DataQuick, which tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records. In January, the number of homes that resold rose 7% on a year-over-year basis, marking the thirteenth consecutive month in which resales have posted an annual gain. It was the highest number of resales for a January since 2005. January sales of newly-built homes also rose from a year earlier, by 26.3%, and were the highest for that month since 2008, but they remained far below average. New-home sales have risen year-over-year for seven consecutive months. Total January sales were 15.6% higher than the average number of homes sold in that month since 1994, while resale activity (excludes new homes) was 55.5% above average for a January. Continuing a months-long trend, January sales were strongest in the lower price ranges. The number of transactions below $100,000 shot up 26% compared with a year earlier and represented 44.6% of all deals, compared with 38.4% of all sales in January 2011. The number of January 2012 sales below $200,000 rose 11.2% year-over-year, while the number above $200,000 fell 3.2% from a year earlier. January sales above $300,000 fell 9.1% compared with a year ago. The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Las Vegas metro area in January was $110,000, down 4.3% from $115,000 in December and down 7.6% from $119,000 in January 2011. The January 2012 median, which was the lowest since the median was also $110,000 in April 1994, was 64.7% below the November 2006 peak of $312,000. The median has fallen on a year-over-year basis for 16 consecutive months.
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). Distressed property sales -- the combination of foreclosure resales and "short sales" -- made two-thirds of the Las Vegas resale market. Foreclosure resales -- homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months -- accounted for 52.6% of the Las Vegas resale market in January. That was up slightly from 52.3% in December but down from 54.7 % a year ago. Foreclosure resales peaked at 73.7% of the resale market in April 2009. Short sales -- transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property -- made up an estimated 13.9% of the resale market in January. That compares with an estimated 13.7% in December, 14.4% a year ago, and 13.6 % two years ago.