March 30, 2012 (Shirley Allen)

Monthly sales of new and resale homes in the Las Vegas area reached their highest level in six years in February with new home sales finally showing some signs of life, rising to their highest level in four years, according to the latest data released from DataQuick.

A total of 4,240 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area in February. Sales were 5.0 percent higher than the 4,038 homes sold in January and were 8.9 percent higher than in February of 2011.

Home sales in the region typically increase 5.6 percent between January and February and were 11.5 percent higher than the average number of homes typically sold during the month.

New home sales were 51.2 percent higher than last year and were at their highest level for the month since 2008 while exisitng home sales were 5.1 percent higher than in February of last year and were at their highest level for a February since 2005.

Cash buyers accounted for 52.9 percent of the purchases in February, which was down from 53.7 percent in January and down from 56.7 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 February increased to $84,500 from $80,000 in January but down from $90,242 in February of last year.

Absentee buyers, usually investors and vacation home buyers, accounted for 48.2 percent of all homes sold in February, down from 49.1 percent in January. The prices they paid for their purchases remained unchanged from January at $90,000 but were down from $97,563 in February of 2011. 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 February was $112,000, up from $110,000 in January and down from $119,000 in February of last year. Year-over-year, home prices have fallen for 17 consecutive months.

February’s median price is 64.1 percent below the peak median price of $312,000 in February 2006.

Distressed property sales accounted for 63.4 percent of the re-sale market in February as foreclosure re-sales accounted for 48.7 percent of total re-sales, down from 52.6 percent in January, and short sales accounted for 14.7 percent of total re-sales, up from 13.8 percent the previous month.

Foreclosures fell in February from January with lenders foreclosing on 1,723 single-family homes and condos, down from 1,960 foreclosures in January. 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 12.8 percent in the fifth month following the new Nevada law that created additional requirements in order to foreclose on a property, falling from 1,048 in January to 914 in February. In September, the month before the new law took effect, 4,507 NoDs were filed. In February of last year, 5,793 NoDs were filed.

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