January home sales soar as prices continue slide

Realtors sold 2,608 single-family homes in Las Vegas during January, a 17.3 percent increase from the same month a year ago, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.

The median price dropped 15.7 percent from a year ago to $134,925, though it's down only 0.8 percent from the previous month.

Inventory decreased 10 percent from a year ago to 19,742 listings. Taking out pending and contingent sales, or homes that are under contract, the number is reduced to 8,107 available units.

The beginning of the year is looking a lot like the end of 2009, with home prices in double-digit decline from year-ago figures and sales posting double-digit gains.

One of the more promising trends in January was the continued increase in short sales and a decrease in sales involving foreclosed homes, Realtors association president Rick Shelton said.

In January, 21.1 percent of all existing homes sold were short sales.

"This suggests that lenders are more willing to work with homeowners and work out short sales as an alternative to foreclosing on homes," Shelton said.

At the same time, bank-owned homes accounted for a decreasing percentage of home sales, dropping to 57.4 percent in January from 60.1 percent in December.

The number of local homes purchased with cash during January rose to 45.5 percent, the highest such percentage ever tracked by the association.

Rob Jenson of The Jenson Group said the average sales price found a new floor at $156,385 in January, sliding 2.3 percent from the previous month.

The Realtors association reported 658 sales of condos and townhomes in January, an increase of nearly 50 percent from a year earlier. The median price is $69,000, up 5.7 percent from December and down 13.8 percent from a year ago.

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