The number of homes sold in Las Vegas and their median price increased slightly in May from the previous month, though prices are down 11.3 percent from a year ago, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.
Realtors sold 3,991 single-family homes, condominiums and townhomes in May, up from 3,902 in April and 3,653 in May 2010. Single-family home sales increased 7.9 percent, while sales of condos and townhomes increased by 14.4 percent, compared to May 2010.
The median price of a single-family home sold in May was $126,000, up 0.8 percent from $125,000 in April, but down 11.3 percent from a year ago.
"This was the first time so far this year that both of these key indicators increased in the same month for both single-family homes and for condos and townhomes," Realtors association President Paul Bell said. "We'll take anything positive these days."
Bell said he sees a positive trend in the increasing number of home sales involving "traditional" buyers and sellers, as opposed to investors and lenders who have dominated Southern Nevada sales for many months.
He noted that the number of traditional home sales increased in May as the percentage of sales involving bank-owned homes and short sales declined.
"It's a gradual trend, but it certainly is an improvement over what we've been seeing," he said.
Realtors' statistics showed 51.4 percent of existing homes sold in Southern Nevada in May were bought with cash. That's down from 51.9 percent in April, but remains near record levels.
Las Vegas-based Residential Resources reported 1,322 REO, or bank-owned, sales in May, or 43.1 percent of all closings; 985 regular sales, or 32 percent of the total; and 758 short sales, or 24.7 percent of the total.
Assuming that owners of homes listed for short sale have stopped making payments, that's a financial stimulus of $5.54 million flowing into Southern Nevada's economy and not going to financial institutions, said Frank Nason, president of Residential Resources.
He based his estimate on an average mortgage payment of $750 for principal and interest and 7,389 short-sale listings in Las Vegas.
"I started thinking about this in national terms estimating that there is probably quite a large stimulus occurring," Nason said. "Is it purposeful stimulus or just a serendipitous result of the slow approval process? I don't have any answers to the larger questions."
The least expensive closing was $10,052 for a home at 1812 Princeton St.; the most expensive was $15 million for a home at 7030 Tomiyasu Lane, according to Residential Resources.
The number of homes for sale on the Multiple Listing Service increased slightly, to 22,767, in May, up 7.7 percent from a year ago. About half list pending or contingent offers.
Bell said real estate agents are seeing a tightening of inventory in master-planned neighborhoods such as Summerlin, Green Valley and Seven Hills, and near employment centers.
Rob Jenson of ReMax Central said the Las Vegas housing market shows stability in the lowest price range with less than six months' supply. It gets softer in the mid-range and luxury markets.
"Once the price hits $600,000, the supply more than doubles, then it just goes up from there," Jenson said.
The monthly value of single-family home transactions tracked through the MLS increased 0.3 percent, to more than $491 million. For condos and townhomes, sales volume was more than $76 million, up 11.9 percent from April.
Realtors' statistics are based on data collected through its MLS, which may not account for new homes sold by builders or for sale by owners.
Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.