Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | 8:49 a.m.
Home prices continued to fall through May in the Las Vegas area, a closely watched national report showed today.
Las Vegas was among a few exceptions in Standard & Poor's monthly housing report, which overall showed the first monthly increase in three years in home prices in 20 big cities tracked in the report.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed prices in Las Vegas fell 2.6 percent from April to May, an improvement from the 3.5 percent decline posted from March to April. Las Vegas-area prices in May were down 32 percent from May 2008.
Las Vegas home prices as tracked in the report have declined since August 2006.
The S&P/Case-Shiller report found prices rose or were unchanged from April to May in 15 of the cities in its composite index.
Of the five cities with falling prices, Las Vegas had the steepest monthly decline.
Overall, the composite price index increased .5 percent from April to May, but the 20 cities overall showed a year-over-year decline in home prices of 17.1 percent.
"The pace of descent in home price values appears to be slowing," David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, said in a statement. "There is a clear inflection point in the year-over-year data, due to four consecutive months of improved rates of return, after the steep decline that began in the fall of 2005.''
"To put it in perspective, these are the first time we have seen broad increases in home prices in 34 months. This could be an indication that home price declines are finally stabilizing.
"While many indicators are showing signs of life in the U.S. housing market, we should remember that on a year-over-year basis home prices are still down about 17 percent on average across all metro areas, so we likely do have a way to go before we see sustained home price appreciation." Blitzer said.
The numbers for Las Vegas were not surprising.
The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors reported prices held steady in June from May, with a median price of $140,000.
But home foreclosure filings accelerated in Las Vegas and Nevada in June, further pressuring home prices downward, according to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac of Irvine, Calif.
Earlier this month RealtyTrac reported total foreclosure filings, including notices of default and notices of intent to auction, totaled 18,764 in Nevada in June. That was up 9.37 percent from May.
Economists say the foreclosure problem in Nevada, which started with a high rate of defaults on unaffordable subprime mortgage loans, has continued due to high unemployment in the state. That rate jumped from 10.6 percent in April to 11.3 percent in May.