Las Vegas-area homes sold at the slowest pace for a January in five years as the median sale price dipped month-to-month but remained 22 percent higher than a year earlier. Price growth has slowed, however, with the median’s year-over-year gain dropping to the lowest level in 15 months, a real estate information service reported.
In January 3,232 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the Las Vegas-Paradise metro area (Clark County). That was down 15.1 percent from the month before and down 10.8 percent from a year earlier, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. The firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.
A sharp drop in sales between December and January is normal for the season. On average, sales between those two months have fallen 21.0 percent since 1994, when DataQuick's complete Las Vegas-area statistics begin. Sales have fallen on a year-over-year basis for the past four months.
Total January home sales were the lowest for that month since January 2009, when 3,127 homes sold, and were 11.7 percent below the average number sold during all months of January since 1994. However, resales of houses and condos combined were 14.7 percent above average for the month of January, while sales of newly built homes were 63.5 percent below the January average. Condo resales in January were nearly 26 percent higher than the January average since 1994.
In recent months home sales have been constrained by a combination of factors, including higher prices and mortgage rates, a fussy mortgage market and the relatively low supply of homes on the market, especially in the lower price ranges. Some owners still can’t afford to sell their homes because they owe more than they are worth. Also, lenders aren’t foreclosing on as many properties, further limiting the supply of homes for sale.
In January, sales of homes priced below $100,000 dropped 45.3 percent compared with a year earlier, while sub-$200,000 transactions fell 28.3 percent year-over-year. The number of homes that sold for $200,000 or more rose 32.7 percent year-over-year. January sales of homes priced from $200,000 to $500,000 – a range that would include many move-up purchases – increased 31.8 percent from a year earlier, while the number selling for $500,000 or more jumped 41.9 percent ($500,000-plus sales represented only about 4 percent of January sales).
Las Vegas region buyers paid a median $177,300 for all new and resale houses and condos purchased in January, down 1.6 percent from $180,150 in December and up 22.3 percent from $145,000 a year earlier. The highest median last year was $180,150 in December, which was also the highest for any month since November 2008, when the median was $190,000.
Because of seasonal factors it is normal for the median sale price to dip between December and January, with that decline averaging 2.0 percent since 1994.
The median sale price’s year-over-year gains over the past 22 consecutive months have ranged from 1.7 percent to 35.3 percent. January’s 22.3 percent year-over-year increase was the lowest since the median rose 19.2 percent from a year earlier in October 2012. The annual gains have been double-digit for the last 19 months and above 20 percent for the last 15 months.
January’s $177,300 median was the lowest for any month since last August, when it was $177,000, and was 43.2 percent below the region’s peak $312,000 median in November 2006.
The run-up in home prices over the last year varies somewhat depending on price segment. In January, the lowest-cost third of the region’s housing stock saw a 27.4 percent year-over-year gain in the median price paid per square foot for resale single-family detached houses. The annual increase was 25.4 percent for the market’s middle third and 23.5 percent for the top, most-expensive third.
Investors' impact on the Las Vegas housing market has generally tapered in recent months but edged higher in January. Absentee buyers, which would include investors and some vacation-home buyers, bought 44.4 percent of the homes sold in January, up from 43.1 percent the month before and down from 50.1 percent a year earlier. The monthly average absentee share since January 2000 is 35.5 percent.
Buyers based outside of Nevada purchased almost 27 percent of all homes sold in the Las Vegas area in January, compared with about 25 percent in December and around 30 percent a year earlier. California was by far the most likely state of origin for out-of-date buyers in January, based on the mailing addresses of buyers. Californian-based buyers accounted for 13.6 percent of all Las Vegas-area homes purchased in January, while Arizona-based buyers bought 3.7 percent and buyers from 37 other states collectively bought 8.0 percent. Buyers with a foreign mailing address accounted for about 1.5 percent of all sales.
In January, 94 Las Vegas-area buyers purchased at least two homes on the open market (excludes public foreclosure auctions on the courthouse steps). That was down about 25 percent from 125 multi-home buyers during January 2013, based on an analysis of buyer names in the public record. (Note: In some cases individuals and partnerships buy under different names). In January this year, buyers of two or more homes purchased 352 homes in the Las Vegas area, which amounts to about 11 percent of all homes sold and represents a 20.0 percent decline from the number of properties that multi-home buyers purchased in January 2013. There were eight buyers in January 2014 that each purchased five or more homes, but only five bought 10 or more. Combined, the five buyers who purchased 10 or more homes in January 2014 acquired 136 properties, or 38.6 percent of all homes bought by multi-home buyers.