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RISMEDIA, August 13, 2009-(MCT)-Housing market conditions in Las Vegas remain softer than a week-old banana, but real estate observers are seeing more signs of recovery with each passing month.

Year-over-year single-family home sales increased for the 16th straight month to 3,738 in July, up 44.2 percent from a year ago, the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported Tuesday.

Combined with 864 sales of condos and townhomes, July’s total was 4,602, about 100 fewer than June’s record. It’s still the second-highest monthly sales volume reported by the association.

The inventory of single-family homes listed for sale decreased 0.9 percent to 20,423 in July and is down nearly 13 percent from the same month a year ago. The number had peaked above 24,000 in 2006 when the local housing market started its collapse.

Realtors have said the number is deceiving because it doesn’t include homes that are in contract status, pending or contingent upon some other action to close escrow. Excluding those homes, inventory drops to about 12,000, roughly four months’ supply.

The association is considering revising its method of counting inventory for August, spokesman George McCabe said.

The median home price tracked closely with June, declining 0.9 percent to $138,800 in July. For condos and townhomes, the median price increased 1.5 percent to $67,000.

Realtors association president Sue Naumann said demand for homes in Las Vegas remains strong and prices are staying about the same.

“I think it’s stabilizing,” she said. “It’s not the freefall we were seeing. I think people now see opportunity in the marketplace.”

She said bank-owned properties continue to drive the local housing market, accounting for 73 percent of all sales and keeping prices down. Prices are still depressed, but they’re not falling by $10,000 a month like they were in late 2008 and earlier this year.

Tim Kelly Kiernan, foreclosure specialist at ReMax Pros in Las Vegas, said he thinks a tremendous amount of foreclosures are yet to come. Various reports show a few hundred notices of default being filed daily in Clark County. These are future foreclosures, Kiernan said.

He had five clients recently with great credit scores who tried to sell their homes in a short sale, or for less than the mortgage balance, which requires lender approval.

“If they aren’t successful, they will just stay in the home for as long as they can, not make the mortgage payments, save that money to move forward in their lives,” he said. “Not a good sign for home values, but they feel they will never recoup the lost equity in their homes.”

Realtor statistics are based on data collected from the Multiple Listing Service and do not necessarily account for new homes sold by builders, sales by owners and other transactions not involving a Realtor.

In a separate Las Vegas housing report, Nevada Title Co. showed 3,361 single-family closings in July, compared with 2,685 in the same month a year ago. The median price is $139,000, down $1,000 from the previous month and down $81,000 from a year ago.

Of the 35,758 home sales recorded since July 2008, 26,653 are real estate-owned, or bank-owned, and 3,231 are short sales, according to the title company.

Copyright (c) 2009, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.