A Look at the Las Vegas Region

September foreclosure resales—homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months—slipped to 51.1% of the Las Vegas resale market, down from 52.5% in August and down from 67.1% a year earlier.

Foreclosure resales peaked at 73.7% of the resale market in April 2009, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

For the month, the real estate information service reported that the number of homes foreclosed on increased from August but remained lower than a year ago.

Lenders foreclosed on 2,687 single-family house and condo units in the Las Vegas region, up 9.1% from August but down 15% from a year ago.

The peak month was February 2009, when lenders foreclosed on 3,718 homes. The figures are based on the number of trustee’s deeds filed at the county recorder’s office.

In the first nine months of this year, 22,069 Las Vegas region houses and condo units were lost to foreclosure, down 15.8% from the same period last year.

The foreclosure totals can include units that the county assessor has designated condos, but are currently used as apartments (e.g., a 100-unit complex designated as condos but used as apartments could be foreclosed on and those units would be reflected in the foreclosure total for that month).

For this reason and others, the number of foreclosure filings has seesawed, and a single month’s increase or decline doesn’t necessarily indicate a new trend.

Home “flipping” has generally trended higher this year but declined in September for the Las Vegas region, MDA DataQuick said.

For the month, that 3.6% of all homes sold had previously been sold on the open market within the prior six months. That was down from an August flipping rate of 4.4% but up from a 3.2% flipping rate in September 2009.

Similar to what is happening nationally, the Las Vegas area’s foreclosed homes are selling to first-time buyers and investors, who often compete for distressed properties.

Absentee buyers purchased 43.1% of all Las Vegas–area homes sold in September, paying a median $110,000, the same median as in August but up from $105,000 a year earlier.

Absentee buyers bought 43.3% of the homes sold in August and 40.4% in September 2009. These buyers are often investors but can include second-home buyers and others who, for various reasons, indicate at the time of sale that the property tax bill will go to a different address.

Buyers who appear to have used cash to purchase their homes accounted for 49.1% of all September sales, up from 49% in August and 46.7% a year earlier, based on an analysis of public property records.

The median price paid in these “seemingly all-cash deals” was $100,000—the same as in August and a year ago.

Specifically, these all-cash deals were transactions where there was no indication of a purchase mortgage recorded at the time of sale. Some of these “cash” buyers could have used alternative financing arrangements outside of a typical, recorded purchase mortgage, and in some cases they might be taking out mortgages after their purchases.

All-cash deals have become popular in many Western markets where prices have dropped sharply, the company said, luring investor buyers who can’t always qualify for traditional mortgages. Moreover, sellers favor the relative speed and certainty of all-cash transactions.