Mike Shedlock

Even though household formation by millennials is at a record low percentage, home sales are at modest levels thanks to investor all-cash buying.

Market-Watch notes All-Cash Home Sales Reach New High.

More Americans are buying homes in all-cash deals, according to a new report. But real-estate experts say this increase may not be a good sign for the health of the housing market, which may also be impacted by the Federal Reserve’s decision to pull back on its bond-buying program.

All-cash purchases accounted for 42% of all sales of residential property in November 2013, up from 39% during the previous month, according to data from real-estate data firm RealtyTrac released Friday. “This is still a very cash- and investor-driven market,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

The cities [states?] with the biggest month-over-month jumps in the number of all-cash sales, according to RealtyTrac, included Florida (63%), Georgia and Nevada (both 51%), South Carolina (50%) and Michigan (49%). This helped boost overall sales of U.S. residential properties, which sold at an annualized pace of 5.1 million in November 2013, a 1% increase from the previous month and a rise of 10% from a year ago.

The decision by the Federal Reserve Wednesday to reduce its bond-buying program to $75 billion per month starting in January, from $85 billion per month currently, may also encourage more cash-purchases — at least for those who can afford it, Blomquist says. “They’re going to do everything they can to keep interest rates low, which may be tough to do,” he says. To reduce cash buyers, he says there will need to be low interest rates and a cooling off in home price appreciation. “Otherwise, you’ll see the market skew even further toward cash buyers,” Blomquist says.

When interest rates went up slightly in June, there was a notable increase in cash sales, Daren Blomquist says. “Some markets are more interest-rate sensitive than others based on affordability,” he says. “Just a slight increase makes homes a lot less affordable.” In fact, another report by Goldman Sachs in August was even more strongly in the cash-is-king camp, estimating that cash sales now account for 57% of all residential home sales versus 19% in 2005.

Mike Shedlock

Mike Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management.
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