Nevada remains top state for foreclosure-related home sales

Nevada continues to lead the nation in the percentage of home sales tied to foreclosures, new data show.

Foreclosure data provider RealtyTrac of Irvine, Calif., reported Wednesday that during the first quarter of this year, 12,405 homes sold in Nevada were in the pre-foreclosure process or had already been foreclosed on.

That represents 56 percent of home sales in the state during the quarter vs. 26 percent of such sales nationwide, RealtyTrac said.

Foreclosure-related sales in Nevada have bounced around from 52 percent in the first quarter of 2011 to 57 percent in the fourth quarter.

Drilling deeper into the numbers, RealtyTrac said pre-foreclosure sales in Nevada in the first quarter of this year accounted for 24 percent of all sales. Those include short sales in which banks let homeowners sell their homes for less than the mortgage amount.

Bank-owned homes, those already foreclosed on, accounted for just more than 32 percent of the sales in Nevada during the quarter.

The high percentage of Nevada home sales tied to foreclosures isn’t surprising, given the devastation the recession brought to the Nevada job market — 11.7 percent unemployment — and to home prices.

Data released separately recently by Zillow.com, for instance, show 71 percent of Las Vegas homes are encumbered by mortgages worth more than the homes, leaving the homeowners are underwater. That 71 percent compares to 31.4 percent of homeowners nationwide with negative equity.

With most homeowners continuing to pay their mortgages despite being underwater, Zillow estimates 5 percent of Las Vegas homeowners are at high risk of foreclosure in the near term.

Given that Las Vegas has more than 840,000 housing units, that would indicate some 42,000 mortgages locally are at high risk of foreclosure in the short term.

The recent reports from RealtyTrac and Zillow follow issuance of a third set of data from DataQuick.

That firm’s statistics show that in Las Vegas, foreclosure-related sales in April accounted for about 59 percent of the local resale market. That’s down from 63 percent in March and down from nearly 69 percent in April 2011.

DataQuick attributed the decline to banks still trying to adjust to a new state law boosting documentation requirements for foreclosures.

With banks completing foreclosures on just 1,237 homes in the Las Vegas area in April — down nearly 66 percent from April 2011 — the resale home supply has tightened.

This helped lift median resale home prices in April to $122,676, up from $119,000 in March, DataQuick said.

Real estate agents point out, in the meantime, that it’s a great time to buy a home in Las Vegasgiven the current low prices.

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