Resale home inventories down from last year total

Numbers released today by a local research firm show a substantial year-over-year drop in area resale home inventories in the first week of 2009.

Data from Applied Analysis reveal an 11.2 percent decline in existing homes for sale when compared with the first weekly reporting period of 2008. The number of resales on the market dropped from 25,260 units a year ago to 22,438 listings in the week that ended Jan. 5.

Tallying resales is important because the number of homes sitting on the market provides a key indicator of housing's health. Analysts call stable or falling resale inventories essential to the local housing market's recovery. At December's closing rate of roughly 2,500 resales, the Las Vegas Valley started 2009 with around nine months' resale inventory. Depending on who you ask, experts consider anywhere from three months to six months a healthy stock of resale inventory on the market.

If Las Vegas' resale market hasn't returned completely to amalyst-approved levels, it's certainly made major progress since a year ago: Match the inventory of 2008's first week with December 2007's closing rate of 879 units, and the market of a year ago had a resale inventory of 28.7 months.

The number of existing homes on the market also tumbled 576 units between the last week of 2008 and the first week of 2009, though researchers at Applied Analysis credited the drop to a typical, seasonal spate of listings expiring on Dec. 31.

The number of pending or contingent purchases — which usually require buyers to close on their own home sale before they sign escrow on a new place — jumped in the first week of the year when compared with the same period a year ago. The 6,097 units pending or contingent as of Jan. 5 bested the roughly 2,400 units pending or contingent in the same reporting period of 2008. Nearly 60 percent of pending sales and contingencies as of Jan. 5 were short sales the Applied Analysis report said.