The December volume of home sales in Las Vegas was at its highest level for the month in five years, but foreclosure resales continued to dominate the market, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all sales, MDA DataQuick said. Of the 5,317 new and resale houses sold in December 2009, 63.3% were foreclosure resales. December’s sales total was 11.1% higher than in November and up 33% from December 2008. It’s the highest December sales total since 2006, when 5,780 homes were sold, DataQuick said. December’s results also marked the 16th consecutive month that sales increased from the same month the previous year. Like the country’s other “sand states” — California, Florida and Arizona — foreclosures are rampant in Nevada and are heavily concentrated in Las Vegas. While foreclosure resales still dominated the market in December, the rate is down from 64.2% in November and 68.9% in December 2008. DataQuick said foreclosures resales peaked in April 2009, when resales accounted for 73.7% of the Las Vegas market. But the foreclosures keep coming. During the month, DataQuick said 2,114 single-family house and condos went into foreclosure, up 4.5% from November but down 24% from December 2008. Foreclosures peaked in February 2009 at 3,718. Resale transactions totaled 4,722 in December, while new home sales accounted for the remaining 595 December transactions. The monthly total of existing home sales is on a 20-month-long run of year-over-year increases and December 2009 was the highest total of December resales since 2004, when 4,739 homes were sold. New home sales were down 17% from November and down 10.9% from one year ago, marking the slowest December for new home sales since 1994. The drop in new sales hurt Las Vegas prices, DataQuick said. The median price paid for all homes in December was $129,000, down 4.4% from $134,900 in November and down 26.3% from $175,000 last year. After peaking at $312,000 in November 2006, the median price is on a 32-month-long skid of year-over-year declines. But December’s decline was the smallest annual decline since August 2008, when the median decreased 26% from the previous year to $221,990. Sales priced below $200,000 accounted for 77.1% of all December transactions, up from 76% in November and 58.3% in December 2008. The median price for the market’s largest segment — resale single-family detached houses — was $135,000 in December, holding steady since October, but down 22.4% from $174,005 last year. The median price for resale condos was $73,000 in December, up from $70,500 in November but down 23.2% from $95,000 last year. Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured mortgages accounted for 49.8% of all home purchase financing in December, from 36.3% in November and up from 31.3% a year earlier. DataQuick also said absentee buyers — typically investors, but anyone who indicates at the time of sale the property tax bill should be delivered to a different address — accounted for 40.3% of all transactions, an increase from 36.3% in November and up from 31.3% last year. December buyers who appear to have used cash to purchase their homes — transactions with no indication of a purchase mortgage recorded at the time of sale — accounted for 45.5% of December sales, up from 42.9% in November and up from 32.6% a year ago, according to DataQuick’s public record reviews. The median price for the cash transactions was $100,000. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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