Jul202013

Is California cash buying slowing down?

Ever since the May/June mortgage rate increases how did it impact the sizable California cash buyer, if any.  A cash buyer doesn’t have to worry about mortgages except when these rates affect the larger housing market.  DataQuick’s monthly report has noted the comparison of between the June and May cash purchase sales and there was a 14.5% drop in the cash purchases or in the form of down payments.  That’s a pretty significant change in just one month.  Some people say it’s seasonal but let’s examine the data.

Southland Home Sales Drop; Record Yr/Yr Gain for Median Sale Price

Southern California home sales fell in June amid a still-tight supply of homes for sale, rising mortgage rates and a letup in investor buying. The median sale price rose at a record year-over-year pace to the highest level – $385,000 – in more than five years, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 21,608 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was down 6.2 percent from 23,034 sales in May, and down 2.1 percent from 22,075 sales in June 2012, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

Last month’s year-over-year sales decline was the first for any month since last September. June sales were 20.9 percent below the June average of 27,315 sales since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin. Over the past seven years Southland sales have been below average for any particular month..

…In a sign of continued market confidence, Southern California home buyers continue to put near-record amounts of their own money into residential real estate. In June they paid a total of $4.7 billion out of their own pockets in the form of down payments or cash purchases. That was down from May’s all-time high of $5.5 billion, and up from $4.1 billion a year ago….

Cash transactions have been has been large part of the housing market since the bubble collapsed.  In 2012 there was huge increase in cash purchases.  This increase was combination of investors, hedge funds, and foreign purchases.  Now that tide might be ebbing affecting the demand side of the housing market.  And it’s not just the amount of cash that has decreased in the percentage in the total number of sales.

Buyers paying with cash accounted for 30.2 percent of last month’s home sales, down from 32.7 percent the month before and down from 32.3 percent a year earlier. The peak was 36.9 percent this February, and since 1988 the monthly average is 16.1 percent. Cash buyers paid a median $320,000 last month, up 34.5 percent from a year ago.

It’s still a significant part of the housing market, but early signs show cash buying is retreating from it’s peaks in the first half of the year.

I also found something interesting in the report.  The year over year percentage change on the median price on a county per county basis.

Sales Volume Median Price
All homes Jun-12 Jun-13 %Chng Jun-12 Jun-13 %Chng
Los Angeles 7,619 7,342 -3.60% $325,000 $425,000 30.80%
Orange 3,351 3,350 0.00% $453,000 $545,000 20.30%
Riverside 3,832 3,536 -7.70% $206,500 $269,250 30.40%
San Bernardino 2,565 2,436 -5.00% $158,000 $204,000 29.10%
San Diego 3,756 4,048 7.80% $335,500 $416,500 24.10%
Ventura 952 896 -5.90% $365,500 $450,000 23.10%
SoCal 22,075 21,608 -2.10% $300,000 $385,000 28.30%

This is an observation I causally notice with this data, so don’t put a lot of stock into it.  Orange County median sale price increased 20.3%, while Riverside and San Bernardino 30.4% and 29.1% respectively.  When the lower income counties home values appreciate greater than the higher income counties, it might indication that this is the peak of the market.  Of course sale volumes are low, so it could the mix of homes sold in the Inland Empire compared to Orange County.  However, I noticed this trend occurred in the last bubble in 2007.  When properties got too expensive in Los Angeles and Orange County investors ran out the Inland Empire and drove up the median price in that area.

I believe that just like purchase applications for new homes we are seeing  a decrease in cash buyers.  Larry, also discussed the potential impact on home prices due to the Tapering by the Federal Reserve.   We are entering a time of much greater volatility in the housing market.  I also think that some people are underestimating the impact of increased mortgage rates on home values.  Yes, the media is report the year over year increase in home values, but it only takes a few months of reporting the month over month decrease (if mortgage rates climb just a little higher) to the change mood in the housing market again.

Mike