Las Vegas area home sales in January grew to the highest level for the month in five years as sales below $200,000 — and especially $100,000 — boomed.

In January, 4,038 new and resale houses and condos sold in Clark County's Las Vegas-Paradise metro area, up 8.5% from the year-ago month and down 16.6% from December, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

Continuing a months-long trend, January sales were strongest in the lower price ranges. Transactions below $100,000 surged 26% from a year earlier and represented 44.6% of all deals, compared to 38.4% of all sales in January 2011.

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. Sales above $300,000 fell 9.1% in the same period.

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in Las Vegas in January came to $110,000, down 7.6% from 119,000 in January 2011 and 4.3% from $115,000. The figure is the lowest since April 1994 when the median was also $110,000 and is 64.7% below the November 2006 peak of $312,000.

The median’s recent decline is attributable to home price depreciation, robust sales of low-cost foreclosures; robust sales to investors, historically low new-home sales and higher-than-usual condo resales, according to DataQuick, which noted that distressed property sales made up two-thirds of all resale activity in Las Vegas.

And more homebuyers are taking advantage of cash discounts. A Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance survey found that between October and January, the number of homeowners purchasing residences with cash grew from 30.8% to 34.1%.

Cash buyers in Las Vegas purchased 53.7% of the Las Vegas-area homes that sold in January, down from 54.5% a year earlier and up from 50.9% of sales in December. The record was set in February 2011 at 56.7%.

The median cash purchase in the month totaled $80,000 for a home in the Las Vegas area, down from $92,250 a year earlier and $81,000 in December.

jhilley@housingwire.com