Home sales soar in LV as prices keep falling

Las Vegas home sales more than doubled in February from the same month a year ago, although median home prices continue to sink as foreclosures dominate the market, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.

Realtors sold 2,288 single-family homes during the month, a 108.4 percent increase from a year ago and up 2.9 percent from January. The median price of a single-family home was $155,603, down 36.9 percent from a year ago.

The inventory of homes available for sale declined 1.6 percent to 22,142, roughly a 10-month supply. The number exceeded 23,000 last summer.

February statistics are in line with trends seen over the past year or so, Realtors association President Sue Naumann said.

Although she's encouraged to see more homes selling each month, she knows declining prices are driving those sales. With bank-owned properties accounting for about three-fourths of sales, foreclosures are still forcing home prices to fall, Naumann said.

"With declining prices, it's even more of a buyer's market and I think buyers are starting to notice this," she said. "Look at the sales numbers. I have six different buyers coming from out of state. They're waiting to see what the economic situation will bring."

She's showing 1,500-square-foot homes with three bedrooms, 21/2 baths and a two-car garage in the range of $130,000 to $150,000. The $8,000 tax break for first-time home buyers will help, but Naumann said she wishes it could be extended to all buyers.

Condominium and townhome sales increased 166 percent in February to 442. The median price dropped 50 percent from a year ago to $75,000.

Home sales peaked at 3,552 in June 2004 and the median price hit its highest point of $315,000 in June 2006, according to the association's historical data.

Local research firm Applied Analysis showed 20,879 resale listings in the first week of March, down 309 units from the previous week. During the past four weeks, the number of listings declined by nearly 1,000 units.

The number of contingent and pending units, or units under contract for sale, increased by 183 homes during the past week to 8,129 units, compared with 4,045 units a year ago. It's the highest level since market corrections began two years ago, Applied Analyis reported.

Owner-occupied homes represented 28.8 percent of all homes listed for sale, while tenant-occupied and vacant properties represented 71.2 percent of inventory. About one-third of homes listed for sale (6,920) were identified as repossessions or were bank-owned.

Frank Nason of Residential Resources said short sales and real estate-owned, or bank-owned, properties built since 2000 account for 56.2 percent and 53.7 percent, respectively, of February sales.

Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors statistics are based on data collected through the Multiple Listing Service, which does not account for new homes sold by builders, sales by owners and other transactions not involving a Realtor.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.