All-cash home sales hit record highs

All-cash home buying is surging across the United States, including in Orange County, as lenders tighten mortgage standards, middle-class buyers are sidelined and investors see opportunity.

Nationwide, cash buyers grabbed 33 percent of all used homes sold in February, the National Association of Realtors reported March 21. The figures, based on agent reporting, do not include foreclosure auctions on courthouse steps, which are usually cash-only.

In Orange County and California real estate, DataQuick Information Systems reports similar trends based on county recordings that do not show any purchase loan.

Cash-only sales have more than doubled in Orange County, from a monthly average of 10.4 percent in the past 23 years to a monthly average of 24 percent in the past 12 months, DataQuick statistics show. In January, all-cash sales hit 28.3 percent in the county – the highest for any month since DataQuick started tracking the figure in 1988.

All-cash home sales risingIn Irvine, 31.6 percent of the 393 homes sold so far this year were paid for in cash, real estate broker Cathy Haney said. The average sales price of the all-cash deals this year was $657,854, while the median price for all the Irvine homes sold was $535,000, she said.

Across California, mortgage-less home purchases have doubled from an average 14.7 percent in the past 23 years to 28.3 percent in the past 12 months, according to DataQuick. Cash deals hit 32.9 percent in February, the highest for any month since at least 1988…

…Investors are also using cash – either their own or from alternative resources – to gain an advantage over buyers using a mortgage in nabbing bank-owned properties, which are plentiful these days and usually less expensive than other homes. Foreclosures in January accounted for 37 percent of all home sales nationwide, 25 percent in Orange County and 54 percent in California.

Traditional lenders often reject mortgage applications for foreclosed properties because the homes need a lot of work, appraisals come in below the accepted price or deals just take too long to close, said Thomas Popik, research director for Campbell Communications Inc., which conducts national surveys of real estate brokers.

Some flippers don’t even have to improve a foreclosure.

“You buy the house at a discount with cash, then you flip it almost immediately to the first-time homebuyer who’s using a mortgage, simply because they were not able to buy at the foreclosure sale,” said Oliver Chang, a housing-market analyst with investment bank Morgan Stanley…

HIGH-END MARKET

In the local, million-dollar-plus home market, buyers are choosing to use their own money to purchase their principal residence, says Chris Valli of luxury real estate brokerage Surterre Properties.

Why? Banks are asking intrusive, exhaustive questions of anyone trying to get financing for a home above $729,000, Valli said. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won’t insure mortgages over $729,750. Buyers feel it is just less of a hassle to pay for the home with their own money, Valli said. The buyers also want to negotiate a better deal on the property by showing they can close escrow without a third party lender, he added…

CREDIT CRUNCH

Tighter underwriting in general for mortgage loans is also a factor in the percentage increase of cash-only deals among all sales.

Lenders are requiring higher down payments and higher credit scores…”

This article is from the OC Register.  Read the rest here: “All-cash home sales hit record highs.”

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