MINDEN, Nev. - Home sales are up in Carson Valley, but home prices themselves continue to slide, according to data released by the Douglas County Assessor's Office.
In the East Fork Township, which includes Carson Valley and the Topaz Lake area, the number of home sales in the third quarter of the year reached 213 - up from 144 in the same quarter of 2010.
In fact, this year had the highest third-quarter total since 2005, when 322 homes were sold. In 2006, the third-quarter total dropped to 169 and stayed well under 200 for the next four years.
But higher sales seem to have come at the cost of home values.
The median sales price for the third quarter this year slipped to $180,250, down from $216,500 in the same quarter last year. In the same time period, the average sales price fell from $263,276 to $222,896.
While the data clearly shows year-over-year losses, both median and average prices in the third quarter are new lows for this year itself.
The median sales prices in the first and second quarters of 2011 were $199,000 and $200,000, respectively. The average sales price was $264,001 in the first quarter and $269,845 in the second.
Annually, both categories have fallen quite a ways. Median prices peaked in 2006 at $398,000. The average sales price also peaked in 2006 at $467,252.
Sales are a different story. While prices have been falling this year, the third quarter produced the strongest showing in number of sales. The third-quarter total of 213 is an improvement over both 147 in the second quarter and 131 in the first.
In the first three quarters of 2011 alone, there have been nearly as many homes sold, 491, as in the entire year of 2008, which saw 492 homes sold.
Since the 2008 trough, total annual home sales have been increasing - from 578 in 2009 to 595 in 2010.
Jim Valentine of ReMax Realty Affiliates in Gardnerville said one would expect prices to catch up to rising demand.
"That's what you'd expect. We have seen multiple offers, and the offer prices are higher than it looks now, but most sales are still going lower," he said.
Valentine described the market as "a confused sea."
"You can't see the current. You can't see the waves," he said. "Sellers are wondering whether to jump in now. It seems things are going down and that maybe they should get out. But buyers are also trying to time the market."
Valentine said a lot prospective buyers are still on the sidelines.
"With prices and interest rates where they are, activity should be higher than levels we're seeing," he said. "A lot of people are still wondering what's going to happen.
"But remember we are different than the rest of the nation, and we always have been. You have to look at our circumstances here in the Valley. We're not Detroit."
Valentine said more low-ball sales could mean more foreclosed properties are improved over time.
"Those homes are purchased and refreshened," he said. "As those homes are sold, they are being lived in and cared for, and values will be going back up."