July 5, 2012 (Shirley Allen)

Home sales improved in the Las Vegas area in May following April’s larger than expected decline while home prices began to show signs of recovery, improving year-over-year for the second consecutive month according to the latest data released from DataQuick.

A total of 4,829 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area in May. Sales were 6.1 percent higher than the revised 4,550 homes sold in April and were 5.7 percent higher than the 4,570 homes sold in May of 2011.

Home sales in the region typically increase 5.0 percent between April and May but were still 0.4 percent below the average number of homes typically sold during the month.

New home sales were 32.8 percent higher than last year and were at their highest level for the month since 2008 but were still 63.0 percent below their historical average, while existing home sales were 2.8 percent higher than in May of last year and up 29.1 percent above their historical average.

Cash buyers accounted for 53.3 percent of the purchases in May, which was down from 53.6 percent in April but up from 53.0 percent a year earlier. The record for cash purchases was in May 2011, when 56.7 percent of the sales were for cash.

The price that cash buyers paid for a home in May increased to $95,000 from $89,900 in April and up from $89,000 in May of last year.

Absentee buyers, usually investors and vacation home buyers, accounted for 48.8 percent of all homes sold in May, down from 50.5 percent in April. The prices they paid for their purchases increased to $100,000 from $96,000 in April and up from $98,900 in May of 2011.

The overall median price paid for new and resale homes and condos in May was $122,000, up from $119,000 in April and up from $117,000 in May of last year. It was the second consecutive month that year-over-year prices have improved after 21 consecutive months of declines.

May’s median price was 60.9 percent below the peak median price of $312,000 in May 2006.

Distressed property sales accounted for 52.7 percent of the re-sale market in May with foreclosure re-sales accounting for 39.0 percent of total re-sales, down from 44.3 percent in April, and short sales accounting for 13.7 percent of total re-sales, down from 14.6 percent the previous month.

Foreclosures fell again from April to May with lenders foreclosing on 905 single-family homes and condos, down from 1,237 foreclosures in April. 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) increased 5.0 percent in the eighth month following the new Nevada law that created additional requirements in order to foreclose on a property, increasing from 1,182 in April to 1,280 in May. In September, the month before the new law took effect, 4,507 NoDs were filed.

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