In Las Vegas, foreclosure resales—homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months—fell to 49.5% of all resales in May, down from 51.9% in April and down from a record-high of 73.7% in April 2009, according to MDA DataQuick of San Diego.

The firm said foreclosure resales have declined each month since last year's peak. Last month's figure was the lowest since foreclosure resales were 48.1% of the resale market in March 2008.

In May 2,701 single-family homes and condo units were foreclosed on in the Las Vegas region, down 17.2% from April but up 16% from a year ago.

The peak month was February 2009, when 3,718 homes were foreclosed on. The figures are based on the number of trustees deeds filed at the Clark County recorder's office.

In the first five months of 2010, 11,576 Las Vegas area homes and condo units were foreclosed on, down 10.1% from the same five-month 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, said John Walsh, president of MDA DataQuick.

"The dwindling number of foreclosed properties reselling over the past year has created more competition between first-time buyers and investors, who still represent a huge portion of the market," he said.

In May, a popular form of financing for first-time homebuyers—government-insured FHA loans—accounted for 51.7% of all home purchase loans. That was up from 49.8% in April but down slightly from 52.4% a year earlier.

Absentee buyers purchased 40.9% of all Las Vegas-area homes sold in May, paying a median of $110,000, which was down from a median of $117,000 in April but up from $98,790 a year earlier.

Absentee buyers bought 42% of the homes sold in April and 36.1% in May 2009. Absentee 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 46.7% of all May sales, down from 48% in April but up from 42% a year earlier, based on an analysis of public property records. The median price paid in these seemingly all-cash deals in May was $105,000, down from $112,000 in April but up from $89,250 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, luring investor buyers who can't always qualify for traditional mortgages. Moreover, sellers favor the relative speed and certainty of all-cash transactions," Walsh said.

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