SOURCE: RealtyTrac


October 24, 2013 00:01 ET

Institutional Investor Purchases Reach New High in September With 14 Percent of All U.S. Residential Sales

Cash Sales Up to 49 Percent of All Residential Sales, Highest Level Since March 2012; Pace of Home Price Gains Starting to Plateau in Fastest-Appreciating Markets

IRVINE, CA--(Marketwired - Oct 24, 2013) - RealtyTrac® (, the nation's leading source for comprehensive housing data, today released its September 2013 U.S. Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report, which shows that U.S. residential properties, including single family homes, condominiums and townhomes, sold at an estimated annualized pace of 5,673,249 in September, up 2 percent from August and up 14 percent from September 2012.

The national median sales price of all residential properties -- including both distressed and non-distressed -- in September was $174,000, up 1 percent from a revised $172,000 median price in August and up 6 percent from a $164,500 median price in September 2012.

The median price of a distressed residential property -- in foreclosure or bank-owned -- in September was $112,000, 41 percent below the median price of $189,000 for a non-distressed residential property. Distressed sales combined accounted for 25 percent of all sales in September, up from 18 percent of all sales a year ago.

"The housing market continues to skew in favor of investors, particularly deep-pocketed institutional investors, and other buyers paying with cash," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "While the institutional investors are pulling back their purchases in many of the higher-priced markets -- places like San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York, Seattle and Sacramento -- they are continuing to ramp up purchases in markets where median prices are still below $200,000 -- places like Jacksonville, Atlanta, Charlotte, St. Louis and Dallas. The availability of distressed inventory also makes a difference. For example, institutional investor purchases have rebounded in Las Vegas corresponding to a recent rebound in foreclosure activity there."

"Distressed sales remain persistently high, particularly short sales," Blomquist added. "Markets with the biggest increases in short sales tend to be those where either foreclosure starts or scheduled foreclosure auctions have rebounded in the last 18 months -- translating into more motivated short sellers -- or those with a still-high percentage of underwater homeowners with negative equity."

Other high-level findings from the report:

  • Institutional investors (purchasing 10 or more properties in the last 12 months) accounted for 14 percent of all sales in September, up from 9 percent in August and also 9 percent in September 2012. September had the highest percentage of institutional investor purchases of any month since RealtyTrac began tracking in January 2011.

  • Among metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, those with the highest percentage of institutional investor purchases in September were Atlanta (29 percent), Las Vegas (27 percent), St. Louis (25 percent), Jacksonville, Fla. (23 percent), Charlotte, N.C. (17 percent), Memphis, Tenn. (16 percent), Richmond, Va. (15 percent), Dallas (15 percent), and San Antonio, Texas (15 percent).

  • All-cash purchases nationwide represented 49 percent of all residential sales in September, up from a revised 40 percent in August and up from 30 percent in September 2012.

  • Among metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, those with the highest percentage of all-cash sales were Miami (69 percent), Tampa, Fla. (62 percent), Jacksonville, Fla. (62 percent), Las Vegas (62 percent), Orlando, Fla. (59 percent), Atlanta (54 percent), Cleveland (51 percent), and Memphis, Tenn. (51 percent).

  • Short sales accounted for 15 percent of all U.S. residential sales in September, up from 14 percent in August and 9 percent in September 2012. States with the biggest percentage of short sales were Nevada (32 percent), Florida (30 percent), Ohio (26 percent), Maryland (22 percent), and Tennessee (21 percent).

  • Among metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, those with the highest percentage of short sales were Las Vegas (34 percent), Columbus, Ohio (33 percent), Tampa, Fla. (33 percent), Memphis, Tenn. (32 percent), and Miami (32 percent).

  • Sales of bank-owned homes accounted for 10 percent of all U.S. residential sales in September, up from 9 percent in August and also 9 percent in September 2012. Among metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, those with the highest percentage of bank-owned sales were Las Vegas (21 percent), Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. (20 percent), Cleveland (19 percent), Phoenix (18 percent), and Columbus, Ohio (16 percent).

  • Annualized sales volume increased from the previous month in 34 out of the 38 states tracked in the report and was up from a year ago in 35 states. Notable exceptions where annualized sales volume decreased from a year ago were California (down 15 percent), Arizona (down 11 percent), and Nevada (down 5 percent).

  • States with the biggest annual increases in median prices were California (up 30 percent), Michigan (up 25 percent), Nevada (up 23 percent), Georgia (up 20 percent), and Arizona (up 20 percent).

  • Among metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, those with the biggest annual increases in median prices were San Francisco (35 percent), Detroit (34 percent), Sacramento (33 percent), Atlanta (27 percent), Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. (26 percent), and Phoenix (25 percent).

  • Home price appreciation showed signs of plateauing in these top six appreciating markets. In all six markets, the annual increase in home prices was down compared to previous months this year.

Local broker perspectives
"Home sales have been holding steady for the past three months in spite of slightly increased interest rates, and the listing inventory has increased substantially, which is giving homebuyers far more choices," said Rich Cosner, president of Prudential California Realty, covering the Southern California market. "Cash sales continue to account for a substantial number of home sales in Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, but are decreasing by the month." 

"Home sales in Oklahoma are seasonally low, partly due to the recent government shutdown," said Sheldon Detrick, CEO of Prudential Detrick/Prudential Alliance Realty, covering the Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Okla., markets. "Pending sales are going to be seasonally up between 10 and 15 percent, which means the coming month will be very good for closing sales."

"The pace of sales has continued to create inventory shortages in the Northern Utah market, but internal numbers would suggest that sellers are coming off the sidelines and re-entering the market," said Steve Roney, CEO of Prudential Utah Real Estate, covering the Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah, markets. "This should help rebalance supply and demand going forward, but there is no question that the housing market is in much better shape now compared to last year."

Report methodology
The RealtyTrac U.S. Residential Sales Report provides counts and median prices for sales of residential properties nationwide, by state and metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 500,000 or more. Data is also available at the county level upon request. The report also provides a breakdown of cash sales, institutional investor sales, short sales and bank-owned sales. The data is derived from recorded sales deeds and loan data, which is used to determine cash sales and short sales. Sales counts for recent months are projected based on seasonality and expected number of sales records for those months that are not yet available from public record sources but will be in the future given historical patterns. Statistics for previous months are revised when each new monthly report is issued as more deed data becomes available for those previous months.

Residential property sales: sales of single family homes, condominiums/townhomes, and co-ops, not including multi-family properties.

Annualized sales: an annualized estimate of the number of residential property sales based on the actual number of sales deeds received for the month, accounting for expected sales records for that month that will be received in future months as well as seasonality.

Distressed sales: sale of a residential property that is actively in the foreclosure process or bank-owned when the sale is recorded.

Distressed discount: percentage difference between the median price of distressed sales and a non-distressed sales in a given geographic area.

Bank-Owned sales: sales of residential properties that have been foreclosed on and are owned by the foreclosing lender (bank).

Short sales: sales of residential properties where the sale price is below the combined total of outstanding mortgages secured by the property.

All-cash purchases: sales where no loan is recorded at the time of sale and where RealtyTrac has coverage of loan data.

Institutional investor purchases: residential property sales to non-lending entities that purchased at least 10 properties in the last 12 months.

Report License 
The RealtyTrac U.S. Residential & Foreclosure Sales report is the result of a proprietary evaluation of information compiled by RealtyTrac; the report and any of the information in whole or in part can only be quoted, copied, published, re-published, distributed and/or re-distributed or used in any manner if the user specifically references RealtyTrac as the source for said report and/or any of the information set forth within the report.

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About RealtyTrac Inc.
RealtyTrac ( is the leading supplier of U.S. real estate data, with more than 1.5 million active default, foreclosure auction and bank-owned properties, and more than 1 million active for-sale listings on its website, which also provides essential housing information for more than 100 million homes nationwide. This information includes property characteristics, tax assessor records, bankruptcy status and sales history, along with 20 categories of key housing-related facts provided by RealtyTrac's wholly-owned subsidiary, Homefacts®. RealtyTrac's foreclosure reports and other housing data are relied on by the Federal Reserve, U.S. Treasury Department, HUD, numerous state housing and banking departments, investment funds as well as millions of real estate professionals and consumers, to help evaluate housing trends and make informed decisions about real estate.