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Vegas-Area Home Sales Dip in October
Nov 22, 2013

Las Vegas-area home sales fell in October as sub-$200,000 transactions continued to decline and the share of homes sold to absentee and cash buyers dropped to the lowest level in more than three years. The median sale price rose to $180,000 – the highest in nearly five years, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. In October, 4,181 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area (Clark County). That was down 0.9 percent from the month before and down 8.6 percent from a year earlier.  On average, sales between September and October have fallen 1.2 percent since 1994, when DataQuick's complete Las Vegas-area statistics begin.  Total October sales in the Las Vegas region were 7.8 percent below the average number of homes sold during all months of October since 1994. However, resales of houses and condos combined were 16.2 percent above average for the month of October, while sales of newly built homes were 56.3 percent below the October average. The 44,654 homes sold in the region this year through October is very close – .07 percent below – the sales tally during the same 10-month period last year. However, this year saw a sharp decline in sub-$200,000 sales as home values rose and sales of lower-cost distressed properties waned. At the same time, a surge in move-up buying has meant big gains for mid- to high-end transactions. In October, sales of homes priced below $100,000 dropped 52.9 percent compared with a year earlier, while sub-$200,000 transactions fell 29.8 percent year-over-year. The number of homes that sold for $200,000 or more shot up 53.7 percent year-over-year. October sales of homes priced from $200,000 to $500,000 – a range that would include many move-up purchases – jumped 50.8 percent from a year earlier, while the number selling for $500,000 or more rose 90.5 percent. However, $500,000-plus sales represented only about four percent of October sales. Viewed differently, 18.5 percent of the Las Vegas area’s October homes sales were for $300,000 or more, up from 9.2 percent a year earlier and the highest for any month since September 2008, when 19.9 percent of sales crossed the $300,000 threshold. Sub-$200,000 deals made up 57.1 percent of October sales – the lowest share for that price category since it was 53.7 percent in November 2008. Las Vegas region buyers paid a median $180,000 for all new and resale houses and condos sold in October – the highest for any month since November 2008, when the median was $190,000. Last month’s median rose 2.9 percent from $175,000 the month before and rose 31.4 percent from $137,000 a year earlier. The increase in the median between September and October followed several months of up-and-down movement on a month-to-month basis. The median sale price’s year-over-year gains over the past 19 consecutive months ranged from 1.7 percent to 35.3 percent. These annual gains have been double-digit for the last 16 months and above 20 percent for the last 12 months. This June's 35.3 percent year-over-year increase in the median is highest so far this year. There are two main reasons for the sharp annual gains in the median. First, prices have risen as stronger housing demand, fueled in large part by low mortgage rates, has met a relatively low supply of homes for sale. Second, the median has been tugged up by changes in market mix: Fewer homes re-selling now are low-cost distressed properties, while more are mid-to high-end move-up homes. October’s $180,000 median remained 42.3 percent below the November 2006 peak of $312,000. The median has been rising off a cyclical trough of $110,000 in January 2012, which was the lowest level since the median was also $110,000 in April 1994. The portion of homes bought by cash and absentee buyers, which include investors and vacation-home buyers, continued to decline. Absentee buyers bought 43.1 percent of the homes sold in October, down from 45.8 percent the month before and 50.0 percent a year earlier. October's absentee share was the lowest since September 2010, when it was also 43.1 percent. Cash buyers purchased 45.6 percent of all homes sold in October, down from 52.6 percent the prior month and 52.5 percent a year earlier. October's cash level was the lowest since it was 41.9 percent in June 2010.
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