REALTYTRAC: U.S. Residential Sales Volume Drops in February for 4th Consecutive Month As Distressed Sales Continue to Dry Up and Institutional Investors Pull Back Purchases

Updated 20 weeks ago Edited from a Press Release

RealtyTrac® (www.realtytrac.com)  has released its February 2014 Residential & Foreclosure Sales Report, which shows that U.S. residential properties, including single family homes, condominiums and town homes, sold at an estimated annual pace of 5,083,241 in February, a 0.2 percent decrease from the previous month but still up 7 percent from a year ago. February marked the fourth consecutive month where sales activity has decreased on a monthly basis.

The decrease in sales volume nationwide was driven by monthly decreases in 31 states. Meanwhile sales volume decreased on a year-over-year basis in six states, including Massachusetts, California, Arizona and Nevada, and 21 of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas, including seven California markets along with Phoenix, Orlando, Las Vegas and Detroit, among others.

“Supply and demand have reached a bit of a standoff in this uneven real estate recovery,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, Irvine, CA. “The supply of distressed properties — which buyers and investors have come to rely on over the past few years — is evaporating quickly in most markets, but that dwindling supply is not being adequately replenished by non-distressed homeowners listing their homes or by new homes being built. Meanwhile, a key source of demand over the past two years — institutional investors purchasing single family homes as rentals — is starting to decline, and it’s not yet clear if that diminishing demand will be filled by first-time homebuyers and move-up buyers.”

“Our historically low inventory is keeping the Denver market from returning to normal,” said Chad Ochsner, owner/broker of RE/MAX Alliance, covering the Denver market in Colorado, where sales volume also decreased monthly for the fourth consecutive month in February.  “Homeowners who are ready to sell their homes are not able to find replacement homes due to low inventory levels, causing them to either not sell or to sell and then rent, which is slowing the pace of the market.”

The national median sales price of U.S. residential properties — including both distressed and non-distressed sales — was $164,667 in February, down 1 percent from the previous month but up 4 percent from February 2013. February marked the 20th consecutive month where the U.S. median price increased or stayed flat annually, but it was the second consecutive month with a monthly decrease.

“Tennessee’s overall housing market is quite positive.  Home sale prices in the Nashville-Murfreesboro MSA have increased for the past 12 consecutive months, while the number of distressed home sales continues to decrease,” said Bob Parks, CEO of Bob Parks Realty, covering the Middle Tennessee market.  “Housing inventory levels are still lower than normal, but we are looking forward to a much more robust spring market.”

“During the month of February, Ohio noted a slight decrease in sales compared to the previous year. Much of the decrease appears to be weather related, as many consumers delayed listing their homes and refrained from viewing available inventory due to below-normal temperatures,” said Michael Mahon, executive vice president of HER Realtors, covering the Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio markets.  “As the March temperatures have warmed, so too has the Ohio real estate activity. Increased multiple-offer situations, as well as increased open house traffic, are indicators that March and April will likely be the benefactors of pent-up consumer demand, due to the frigid temperatures experienced during the first quarter of 2014.”

Short sales and distressed sales — in foreclosure or bank-owned — accounted for 16.9 percent of all U.S. sales in February, up from 16.1 percent of sales in January but down from 19.1 percent of sales in February 2013. The median price of distressed properties — in foreclosure or bank-owned — was $96,606 in February, 44 percent below the median price of non-distressed properties: $172,339.

Short sales nationwide accounted for 5.7 percent of all sales, up from 5.5 percent in January but down from 6.9 percent a year ago. Metro areas with the highest percentage of short sales included Las Vegas (17.0 percent), Orlando (16.8 percent), Tampa (14.9 percent), Memphis (14.5 percent), and Miami (12.3 percent). The percentage of short sales decreased from a year ago in all of these metros.

“The last half of 2013 did not have nearly as much buyer demand as we’ve been seeing so far  in the first half of 2014,” said Craig King, COO of Chase International, covering the Lake Tahoe and Reno markets.  “Last year distressed property sales mostly disappeared from our marketplace.  This year we are finding that agents who have historically handled the largest numbers of short sales are reporting that they have moved away from short sales because there just aren’t that many in our area.”

Sales of bank-owned properties nationwide accounted for 9.7 percent of sales, up from 9.3 percent in January but down from 11.1 percent a year ago. Metro areas with the highest percentage of bank-owned sales in February included Cleveland (29.8 percent), Stockton, Calif. (25.5 percent), Las Vegas (25.4 percent), Detroit (23.0 percent), and Jacksonville, Fla. (21.1 percent).

“Bank-owned property sales in Salt Lake County accounted for 3.6 percent of homes sold and accounted for less than 1.5 percent of homes sold in the Park City resort areas of Summit County,” said Steve Roney, CEO of Prudential Utah Real Estate, covering the Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah markets. 

Sales at the public foreclosure auction accounted for1.5 percent of all sales nationwide in February, up from 1.3 percent in January and up from 1.1 percent in February 2013.

  • 97 percent of all sales at the foreclosure auction were all-cash 
  • 35 percent of all sales at the foreclosure auction were to institutional investors 
  • 81 percent of all properties sold at the foreclosure auction sold for $200,000 or less 

Metro areas with the highest percentage of foreclosure auction sales in February included Lakeland, Fla., (6.9 percent), Columbus, Ohio (5.4 percent), Charlotte, N.C. (4.7 percent), Miami (4.7 percent), and Las Vegas (4.6 percent).

 
Institutional investors — entities that have purchased at least 10 properties in a calendar year — accounted for 5.9 percent of all U.S. residential property sales in February, up from a revised 5.0 percent of sales in January but down from 7.2 percent of sales in February 2013. February was the third consecutive month where the institutional investor share of sales declined on a year-over-year basis after 19 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

  • 91 percent of all institutional investor purchases in February were all-cash 
  • 17 percent of all institutional investor purchases were properties in foreclosure or bank-owned 
  • 81 percent of all institutional investor purchases were properties priced $200,000 or lower 
  • 63 percent of all institutional investor purchases were properties with between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet 
  • 55 percent of all institutional investor purchases were properties built in 1990 or later 

Among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 500,000 or more, cities with the highest share of institutional investor purchases in February were Atlanta (25.2 percent), Columbus, Ohio, (21.4 percent), Knoxville, Tenn., (18.2 percent), Phoenix (15.2 percent), and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. (14.8 percent).

“Since Fannie Mae inventory is mostly comprised of completed home foreclosures with FHA loans, investors target these properties because they tend to be smaller homes that make for better rental property investments,” said Sheldon Detrick, CEO of Prudential Detrick/Alliance Realty, covering the Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., where the institutional investor share of purchases dropped from a year ago.  “There is very little Fannie Mae inventory left, which coincides with the fact that institutional investors have slowly backed out of the market.”

Metros with the biggest year-over-year increases in institutional investor share were Knoxville, Tenn., (from 3.3 percent in February 2013 to 18.2 percent in February 2014), Little Rock, Ark., (from 3.2 percent in February 2013 to 12.1 percent in February 2014), Milwaukee, Wis. (from 3.5 percent in February 2013 to 9.2 percent in February 2014), San Francisco (from 3.9 percent in February 2013 to 9.5 percent in February 2014), San Antonio, Texas (from 4.6 percent in February 2013 to 8.3 percent in February 2014), and Columbus, Ohio (from 13.3 percent in February 2013 to 21.4 percent in February 2014).

All-cash sales accounted for 43.3 percent of all U.S. residential sales in February, up from a revised 42.1 percent in January and up from 20.2 percent in February 2013. February was the eighth consecutive month were cash sales accounted for 35 percent or more of all sales nationwide.

  • 12 percent of cash sales were to institutional investors. 
  • 15 percent of cash sales were properties in foreclosure or bank-owned. 
  • 67 percent of cash sales were properties priced $200,000 or lower. 

Metro areas with share of all-cash sales above 50 percent included Miami (71.3 percent), Tampa (65.9 percent), Orlando (62.3 percent), Las Vegas (59.5 percent), New York (57.1 percent), Atlanta (56.7 percent) and Detroit (56.0 percent).

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