“Cash sales continue to be an important piece of the real estate puzzle right now, representing one in every three home sales nationwide in the third quarter of 2014 and helping to drive up US median home prices 38% over the last two-and-a-half years,” said RealtyTrac VP Daren Blomquist.
On a nationwide basis, cash sales in the third quarter dropped to 33.9% of all sales of single family homes and condos, from 36.9% in the prior quarter, according to RealtyTrac’s latest report.
Among these cash buyers are institutional investors, such as private equity funds that have become the largest landlords in the US, households who don’t want to get a mortgage at least initially, but also foreign buyers who have trouble getting a mortgage in the US, or those who’re trying to get cash out of their country and out of harm’s way.
While cash sales were down overall, in some markets there has been a “recent surge,” as Blomquist said. Among the metropolitan statistical areas with a population of at least 500,000, these are the top ten where cash buyers totally dominate:
Note how 8 of these markets are in Florida! You have to go down all the way to 7th place to get to the first non-Florida paradise for cash buyers.
This comes at a time when home purchase mortgage applications have plunged to a 19-year low (chart), when the share of purchases by first-time buyers, the foundation of a healthy housing market, as dropped to a 27-year low, and when prices in many markets have surpassed the crazy levels of the peak of the last housing bubble. Excess global liquidity made available by central banks for free or nearly free, and in nearly unlimited quantity, to certain large players can accomplish miracles!
But problems are cropping up in this Housing Bubble 2: Sales to one group of cash buyers – institutional investors – and big drivers in the run-up in prices, have plunged to the lowest level since 2010. Read… The Big Unwind: After Messing up the Housing Market, the “Smart Money” Bails Out