February 8, 2012 (Shirley Allen)

Monthly sales of new and resale homes in Las Vegas increased in December, while home prices continued to show promising signs of stability by remaining virtually unchanged for the fourth consecutive month according to the latest data released from DataQuick.

A total of 4,823 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area in December. Sales were 8.1 percent higher than the 4,460 homes sold in November and were 3.0 percent higher than in December of 2010.

Home sales in the region typically increase 12.5 percent between November and December but were still 9.1 percent lower than the average number of homes typically sold during the month.

New home sales continued to lag with December’s tally the second lowest on record for that month since 1994, only surpassed by December of last year. New home sales were 15.6 percent higher than last year and have increased year-over-year for the past six consecutive months.

Cash buyers accounted for 50.9 percent of the purchases in December, which was up from 48.9 percent in November and 50.6 percent a year earlier. The record for cash purchases was in February 2011, when 56.7 percent of the sales were for cash.

The price that cash buyers paid for a home in December fell to $81,180 from $82,000 in November and down from $89,250 in December of last year.

Absentee buyers, usually investors and vacation home buyers, accounted for 47.2 percent of all homes sold in December, up from 46.1 percent in November. The prices they paid for their purchases increased to $95,000 in December from $90,000 in November but were down from $103,000 in December of 2010. The record amount of purchases made by absentee buyers was 49.9 percent in March of 2011.

The overall median price paid for new and resale homes and condos in December was $115,000, unchanged from November but down from $124,000 in December of last year.

December’s median price is 63.1 percent below the peak median price of $312,000 in December 2006.

Distressed property sales accounted for 66.2 percent of the re-sale market in December as foreclosure re-sales accounted for 52.4 percent of total re-sales, unchanged from November, and short sales accounted for 13.8 percent of total re-sales, down from 14.8 percent the previous month.

Foreclosures fell slightly in December from November with lenders foreclosing on 1,744 single-family homes and condos, down from 1,931 foreclosures in November. In 2011, lenders foreclosed on 32,730 homes in the area, slightly trailing the peak year of 2009 which saw 33,833 foreclosures.

The highest number of loans foreclosed by lenders in a single month was in May 2011, when lenders foreclosed on 3,818 loans.

Notices of default (NoDs) fell 28.1 percent in the third month following the new Nevada law that created additional requirements in order to foreclose on a property, declining from 1,281 in November to 921 in December. In September, the month before the new law took effect, 4,507 NoDs were filed. In December of last year, 5,125 NoDs were filed.

Tags: existing home sales, Las Vegas, distressed properties, resale homes, condos, cash buyers, investors, median price