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Good news, bad news as cash buyers retreat

All-cash sales accounted for 37.9 percent of all sales of single family homes and condos nationwide in the second quarter, according to Data firm RealtyTrac’s Q2 2014 U.S. Institutional Investor & Cash Sales Report This share is down from a three-year high of 42.0 percent in the previous quarter but still up from 35.7 percent in a year ago.

The report also shows that sales to institutional investors — entities that purchase at least 10 properties in a calendar year — accounted for 4.7 percent of all sales of single family homes and condos in the second quarter, down from 5.3 percent in the previous quarter and down from 5.8 percent a year ago to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2012.

DAREN BLOMQUIST
DAREN BLOMQUIST

“The flurry of purchases by institutional investors and other cash buyers that kicked off two years ago when U.S. home prices hit bottom is finally showing signs of subsiding,” said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president, noting that median home prices bottomed out in March 2012.

“Over the past 10 quarters cash sales have accounted for 39 percent of all home sales on average, and institutional investor purchases have accounted for 5.3 percent of all home sales on average. Prior to that, from 2001 to 2011, the average quarterly cash share was 30 percent, and the average quarterly institutional investor share was 2.6 percent.”

“This is a classic good news/bad news scenario for the housing market,” Blomquist continued. “The good news is that fewer cash buyers should help loosen up inventory of homes for sale and reduce competitive bidding, giving first time homebuyers and other non-cash buyers more opportunities. The bad news is that some of those first time homebuyers and other non-cash buyers may already be priced out of the market thanks to the rapid run-up in home prices over the past two years in many areas.”

U.S. cash sales hit a peak of 45.8 percent of all home sales in the first quarter of 2012, when home prices bottomed out, but were down to as low as 34.0 percent of all sales in the third quarter of 2013 before jumping to 36.6 percent in the fourth quarter on the heels of the rise in interest rates and jumping again to 42.0 percent of all sales in the first quarter of 2014, when new qualified mortgage rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau took effect.

Cash sales in the second quarter were skewed higher on both ends of the home price spectrum. Cash sales accounted for 67 percent of purchases of homes selling for $100,000 or less, and cash sales accounted for 45 percent of purchases of homes selling for more than $2 million.

Cash sales represented a larger share of distressed sales, with 49 percent of bank-owned sales, 61 percent of sales of properties in the foreclosure process, and 96 percent of sales at the foreclosure auction. By comparison, non-distressed home sales were 36 percent all-cash.

Among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 500,000, those with the top six highest percentages of cash sales were all in Florida: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach (64.1 percent), Cape Coral-Fort Myers (62.1 percent), Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice (61.5 percent), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (54.6 percent), Lakeland (53.0 percent), and Orlando-Kissimmee (52.2 percent).All six metros posted a lower all-cash share of sales than the previous quarter and a year ago.

Other major metro areas with an all-cash share among the top 20 highest nationwide were Las Vegas (50.7 percent), New York (48.2 percent), Detroit (47.7 percent), Kansas City (46.8 percent), Philadelphia (45.1 percent), and Cleveland (45.1 percent).

RealtyTrac analyzed more than 7,500 all-cash transactions for single family homes in Orange County, Calif., between January 2013 and July 2014 to determine what percentage of the properties purchases were subsequently financed by the buyer.

The analysis found that 10 percent of those all-cash purchases had some sort of subsequent mortgage taken out by the owner who purchased with cash. The subsequent financing was recorded on average 136 days after the sale of the property was recorded.

Among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 500,000, those with the highest share of institutional investor purchases in the second quarter were Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta (15.6 percent), Las Vegas-Paradise (14.4 percent), Jacksonville, Fla., (12. 5 percent), Memphis, Tenn. (12.0 percent), and Charlotte-Concord (11.3 percent).

Although Atlanta documented the highest share of institutional investor sales in the second quarter, its 15.6 percent share was down from a 20.6 percent share in the first quarter and a 16.5 percent share in the second quarter of 2013 — following nine consecutive quarters with year-over-year increases in Atlanta’s institutional investor share.

The institutional investor share of home purchases were also down from a year ago in Memphis and Charlotte, but increased from a year ago in Las Vegas and Jacksonville, bucking the national trend.

Other metro areas among the top 10 for institutional investor share with increases from a year ago were Knoxville, Tenn., (10.0 percent compared to 6.9 percent a year ago); Columbus, Ohio (9.2 percent compared to 6.9 percent a year ago); and Miami (8.2 percent compared to 6.7 percent a year ago).

The report shows that the second quarter share of institutional investor purchases was the lowest since the first quarter of 2012, when they represented 4.6 percent of all U.S. home sales. The peak in institutional investor share of all sales was 6.0 percent in the first quarter of 2013.
In the second quarter institutional investors purchased homes at an average sale price of $147,017, while the average estimated full market value of the homes purchased was $164,553 at the time of the sale.

The majority of purchases made by institutional investors in the second quarter were all-cash (79 percent) and not in any stage of foreclosure or bank-owned (80 percent). Of the remaining 20 percent, 7 percent were bank-owned, 11 percent were scheduled for a foreclosure auction, and 2 percent were in default with no foreclosure auction date set.

Among the 29,444 single family homes purchased by institutional investors in the second quarter, 8,856 (29 percent) were bulk transactions involving multiple properties sold on the same date from the same seller and to the same buyer. The 29 percent bulk transactions was down from 31 percent in the previous quarter but up from 19 percent a year ago.

Most of the bulk transactions involve an institutional investor with multiple corporations purchasing properties that are consolidating all of those properties under a single ownership name.

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