Real Estate Roundup: All-Cash Purchases Set Record; Refinancing Pays Off Big

Pile of hundred-dollar billsHere’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious:


Investors rushing into California’s housing markets helped push the number of homes purchased with cash to an all-time high last year.

A total of 145,797 single-family homes and condominiums in the state were bought without mortgage financing in 2012, according to the research firm DataQuick. That was up 16 percent from 125,812 in 2011, the previous high.

In the Bay Area, the increase in all-cash deals was significantly higher: up 54 percent in Marin County, 38 percent in Napa County, 32 percent in San Francisco, 24 percent in Sonoma County, 18 percent in Alameda County, and 10 percent in Contra Costa County.

DataQuick attributed the rise to high investor interest, a difficult mortgage environment, and perceived higher returns on investment.

Cash purchases accounted for a record 32 percent of California’s home sales last year, up from 30 percent in 2011 and more than double the annual average of 15.6 percent since 1991.

Homeowners who refinanced their mortgages in the fourth quarter of 2012 were able to cut their interest rate by one-third — an average of 1.8 percentage points — according to Freddie Mac. That’s the biggest percentage reduction ever recorded.

“On a $200,000 loan, that translates into saving about $3,600 in interest during the next 12 months,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Bay Area foreclosed homes sold at a 46 percent price discount in the third quarter of 2012 — the eighth-highest discount rate in the United States, according to a Business Insider report analyzing data from RealtyTrac.

Foreclosed homes in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metropolitan area sold for an average price of $350,160.

Across the country, third-quarter foreclosures sold at an average discount of 31.81 percent.

If you’ve ever thought of entering the rental market as a landlord, today’s combination of low mortgage rates and discounted home prices presents a rare opportunity.

Owning a rental property is “a sweet spot” in today’s housing market, according to a financial advisor quoted in a recent Associated Press report. The AP story goes on to list six tips on becoming a landlord or investor in rental property.

($100 bills photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, via Flickr.)

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