According to RealtyTrac's Midyear 2015 U.S. Home Sales Report, distressed sales, cash sales and institutional investor sales in June were all down from a year ago to multi-year lows even as sales to first-time homebuyers and other buyers using FHA loans increased compared to a year ago in June and reached a two-year high in the second quarter.
Buyers using Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans -- typically low down payment loans utilized by first time homebuyers and other buyers without equity to bring to the closing table -- accounted for 23 percent of all single family home and condo sales with financing -- excluding all-cash sales -- in the second quarter of 2015, up from 20 percent in the first quarter and up from 19 percent in the second quarter of 2014 to the highest share since the first quarter of 2013.
The report also shows 914,291 single family and condo sales through April 2015 -- the most recent month with complete sales data available -- at the highest level through the first four months of a year since 2006, a nine-year high.
"As the investor-driven housing recovery faded in the first half of 2015, first-time homebuyers, boomerang buyers and other traditional owner-occupant buyers started to step into the gap and pick up the slack," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "This is good news for sellers in many markets, providing them with strong demand from a larger pool of buyers, and U.S. sellers so far in 2015 are realizing the biggest gains in home price appreciation since 2007. In June sellers sold for above estimated market value on average for the first time in nearly two years.
"Higher-value markets with a larger share of homes priced above the loan limits set by FHA and Fannie and Freddie Mac Markets are the most likely to struggle in the second half of the year as the recovery continues to become more dependent on traditional buyers relying on financing," Blomquist noted. "The health of these high-priced trophy markets will in many ways be tied more to global economic forces driving foreign cash buyers than U.S. economic and real estate fundamentals."
Cash buyers down nationwide, up in New York City and 20 other markets
All-cash buyers accounted for 22.9 percent of all single family home and condo sales in June, down from 24.7 percent of all sales in the previous month and down from 29.1 percent of all sales in June 2014 to the lowest share of monthly cash sales nationwide since August 2008. The June cash sales share was almost half the peak of 42.1 percent in February 2011.
Metros with highest share of cash sales in June were Homosassa Springs, Florida (53 percent), Naples-Marco Island, Florida (52 percent); Miami (50 percent); Sebastian-Vero Beach, Florida (50 percent); and New York (49 percent).
"The first six months of sales in South Florida have been at a record pace. The millennials are entering the market along with many homebuyers who had difficulty during the last recession while the investor market has quieted," said Mike Pappas, CEO and president of Keyes Company, covering the South Florida market. "It is a real market with real buyers and sellers. The buyers have many lending options and are still enjoying low interest rates and many sellers are selling at their peak prices."
In New York and 20 other markets analyzed for the report, the share of cash sales increased from a year ago, counter to the national trend. The New York metro share of cash sales increased from 40 percent in June 2014 to 49 percent in June 2015. Other markets with an increasing share of cash sales included Raleigh, North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; Bellingham, Washington located between Seattle and Vancouver, Canada; Knoxville, Tennessee; Providence, Rhode Island; and San Jose, California.
"Cash buyers have been a significant player in the Seattle housing market over the past 18 months, but the modest drop in this buyer segment doesn't come as a surprise given the aggressive rise in home prices in recent months," said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market. "Higher prices are forcing these buyers to dig deeper into their pockets and this process has started to push some out of the market. The same can be said for first time buyers; many of them are having a hard time qualifying for a loan also due to the rise in home prices in Seattle."
"Particularly, in the first-time home buyer market, we are seeing multiple offers and in many cases sellers are choosing the cash offer over FHA or conventional financing," said Greg Smith, owner/broker at RE/MAX Alliance, covering the Denver market in Colorado. "This can skew the numbers of the actual makeup of buyers in the marketplace. As we continue to see the market move towards equilibrium we should continue to see the FHA numbers grow and a slight decrease in cash buyers."
Institutional investor share in June matches record low
Institutional investors -- entities purchasing at least 10 properties during a calendar year -- accounted for 1.7 percent of all single family and condo sales in June, the same share as in May but down from 3.5 percent of all sales in June 2014. The 1.7 percent share of institutional investor sales in May and June was the lowest monthly share going back to January 2000 -- the earliest data is available -- and was less than one-third of the monthly peak of 6.1 percent in February 2013.
Metro areas with the highest share of institutional investor sales in June 2015 were Macon, Georgia (10.2 percent); Columbia, Tennessee (9.5 percent); Memphis, Tennessee (8.7 percent); Detroit (7.8 percent); and Charlotte (5.3 percent).
Other major metros with a high percentage of institutional investor sales included Tampa (4.3 percent); Atlanta (4.0 percent); Tulsa, Oklahoma (3.9 percent); Oklahoma City (3.7 percent); and Nashville (3.7 percent).
The share of institutional investors increased from a year ago in just four markets: Detroit; Macon, Georgia; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Birmingham, Alabama.
Distressed sales drop to new record low
Distressed sales -- properties in the foreclosure process or bank-owned when they sold -- accounted for 8.0 percent of all single family and condo sales in June, down from 10.6 percent of all sales in May and down from 19.0 percent of all sales in June 2014 to the lowest monthly share since January 2011 -- the earliest that data is available. The share of distressed sales reached a monthly peak of 45.9 percent of all single family and condo sales in February 2011.
Metro areas with the highest share of distressed sales in June were Salisbury, North Carolina (30.6 percent); Gainesville, Georgia (23.8 percent); Jacksonville, North Carolina (22.2 percent); Boone, North Carolina (22.1 percent); and Marion Ohio (21.9 percent).
Major metro areas with a high share of distressed sales in June included Chicago (14.7 percent); Baltimore (14.4 percent); Orlando (13.8 percent); Jacksonville, Florida (13.6 percent); and Memphis (13.4 percent).
Markets with highest and lowest share of FHA loan purchases in first half of 2015
Nationwide, buyers using FHA loans accounted for 22 percent of all financed sales in the first half of 2015, up from 19 percent of all sales in 2014 and up from 20 percent of all sales in 2013.
Among markets with a population of 1 million or more, those with the highest share of buyers using FHA loans in the first six months of 2015 were Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario in inland Southern California (35 percent); Las Vegas (32 percent); Oklahoma City (31 percent); Salt Lake City (30 percent); and Phoenix (29 percent).
Major markets with the lowest share of buyers using FHA loans in the first six months of 2015 were San Jose, California (7 percent); Hartford, Connecticut (10 percent); San Francisco (12 percent); Boston (12 percent); and Milwaukee (13 percent).
First-half 2015 sellers realized highest home price gains since 2007
Single family home and condo sellers in the first half of 2015 sold for an average of 13 percent above their original purchase price, the highest average percentage in home price gains realized by sellers since 2007, when it was 30 percent.
Major markets where sellers in the first half of 2015 realized the biggest average home price gains were San Jose, California (41 percent); San Francisco (37 percent); Denver (29 percent); Portland (25 percent); Los Angeles (25 percent); and Seattle (20 percent).
There were six major markets where sellers in the first half of 2015 on average sold below their original purchase price: Chicago (7 percent below); Cleveland (7 percent below); Hartford, Connecticut (3 percent below); Jacksonville, Florida (2 percent below); St. Louis (1 percent below); and Orlando (1 percent below).
Homes sold in June sold above estimated market value on average
Single family homes and condos in June sold for an average of $291,450 compared to an average $287,634 estimated market value for those same homes at the time of sale -- a 101 percent price-to-value ratio. June was the first time since July 2013 that the national price-to-value ratio exceeded 100 percent.
Major metro areas with the highest price-to-value ratios -- where homes sold the most above estimated market value -- were San Francisco (106 percent); Hartford, Connecticut (105 percent); Baltimore (105 percent); Rochester, New York (104 percent); and Providence, Rhode Island (103 percent).
Other major markets with price-to-value ratios above 100 percent in June included Washington, D.C. (103 percent); Phoenix (103 percent); Sacramento (103 percent); Portland (103 percent); Seattle (102 percent); San Jose (102 percent); and St. Louis (102 percent);
Sales volume at highest level since 2006 in 16 percent of markets analyzed
The number of single family homes and condos sold in the first four months of 2015 were at the highest level in the first four months of any year since 2006 in 43 out of 264 (16 percent) metropolitan statistical areas with sufficient home sales data. Markets at nine-year highs included Tampa, Denver, Columbus, Ohio, Jacksonville, Florida, and San Antonio.
There were 23 markets where sales volume in the first four months of 2015 was at 10-year highs, including Denver; Columbus, Ohio; San Antonio; Tucson, Arizona; and Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida.
Among major metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, 22 out of 51 markets (43 percent) were at eight-year highs for single family home and condo sales in the first four months of the 2015, including New York, Dallas, Houston, Seattle and Portland.