The Las Vegas real estate market got a small reprieve in February; with sales volume at a four-year high for the month and a dip in foreclosure resales helping prices increase slightly from January. A total of 3,698 new and existing houses and condos were sold in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area in February, according to MDA DataQuick. That’s up 9.8% from January and 10.5% from one year ago. A 5.7% increase from January to February is the average, dating back to 1994, DataQuick said. The February 2010 total was the highest for the month since 2006, when 6,065 homes were sold, but 2% below the 16-year average February sales total. It’s the 18th straight month that total sales rose year-over-year. Existing home sales totaled 3,311, up 7.1% from January and up 9.5% from last year. It’s the highest total for February existing sales since 2005. Existing home sales are on a 22-month-long run of monthly year-over-year increases. Foreclosure resales accounted for 59.6% of all resales in February, down from 62% in January and down from 70.6% last year. After peaking in April 2009 at 73.7%, foreclosure resales have declined every month. While foreclosure resales were down, foreclosure proceedings were up. In February, 1,756 homes and condos were foreclosed on in Las Vegas, up 5.3% from January, but down 52.8% from 3,718 foreclosures last year. New home sales totaled 387 in February, up 40% from January and up 20.2% from last year, but it was one of the slowest February sales totals in DataQuick’s 16 years of records, second only to last year. The decline in foreclosure resales and the increase in new home sales helped the median price increase from January, but only slightly. The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Las Vegas metro area in February was $126,197, up 0.4% from $125,750 in January but down 17.2% from $152,500 a year earlier. DataQuick said the year-over-year decline was the smallest since March 2008, when the median dropped 16% from a year earlier, to $247,925. In addition, sales of homes over $200,000 made up 22.4% of total sales, up from 21.3% in January but down from 30.8% a year earlier. The median sales price is on a 34-month-long run of monthly year-over-year declines and in February 2010, was 59.6% below the peak median of $312,000 in November 2006. The median price for single-family homes was $133,800 in February, down from $135,000 in January and down from $157,000 last year. The median condo sales price was $69,000, even from January, but down 9.2% from $76,000 last year. Nearly half — 49.8% — of borrowers that used mortgages to fund home purchases used government-backed Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. Cash buyers accounted for 51.5% of all February sales, up from 50.4% in January. DataQuick defines cash borrowers as those purchases where there was no indication of a purchase mortgage recorded at the time of sale, but can include those that used alternative financing arrangements and in some cases borrowers might be taking out mortgages after their purchases. Absentee buyers, usually investors, but anyone who indicates at the time of sale that the property tax bill will go to a different address, accounted for 44.6% of all Las Vegas area home sales. However, house flipping declined. Homes sold in February that had previously sold in the past three weeks to six months accounted for 3.7% of all sales, down from 5% in January, but up from 2.6% last year. Write to Austin Kilgore.
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