Cash sales up – distressed sales and investors down


WASHINGTON – May 9, 2014 – The market share of all-cash purchases is on the rise, despite declines in distressed sales and investor activity, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). The results spring from an analysis of data collected for the latest Realtors Confidence Index.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, calls the findings counterintuitive.

“Distressed home sales, most popular with investors who pay cash, have declined notably in the past two years, yet the share of all-cash purchases has risen,” he says. “At the same time, investors have declined as a market share, indicating other changes have been underway in the marketplace.”

In Florida more than half of all homes were purchased with cash. High levels of all-cash sales also were recorded in Nevada, Arizona and West Virginia, accounting for close to four out of 10 transactions.

In Florida, distressed home sales declined from nearly four in 10 purchases in 2012 to three in 10 during 2013, and the number of investors edged lower.

“Florida is the most popular state for international buyers who generally pay cash, as well as vacation-home buyers who frequently pay cash,” Yun says. “In addition, downsizing retirees are known to pay cash from the proceeds of their homes in the north. This helps to explain the disparity there, but that isn’t the case in most other states.”

Distressed home sales declined from 26 percent of the national market in 2012 to 17 percent in 2013 and 15 percent in the first quarter of this year. NAR projects that distressed homes will drop to a single-digit market share by the fourth quarter.

All-cash purchases rose from 29 percent in 2012 to 31 percent in 2013 and 33 percent in the first quarter of 2014.

The findings also show investors edged down from 20 percent of buyers in 2012 to 19 percent in both 2013 and the first quarter of this year.

A separate annual study of consumers, NAR’s 2014 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, shows investors at a somewhat higher market share, but declining more sharply from 24 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2013.

“These findings beg the question as to why we’re seeing higher shares of cash purchases,” Yun says. “The restrictive mortgage lending standards are a factor, but the higher levels of cash sales may also come from the aging of the baby boom generation, with more trade-down and retirement buyers paying cash with decades of equity accumulation.”

Another study, the 2013 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, shows trade-down buyers rose to 29 percent of buyers last year from 25 percent in the 2012 study and 23 percent in 2011, suggesting a contribution to the trend in cash sales.

“A majority of foreign buyers pay cash as well, and the five-year bull run of the stock market has also provided financial wherewithal among higher wealth households,” Yun says.

© 2014 Florida Realtors®