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Cash and Distressed Sales Update: October 2016

Distressed Sales Made Up 7.7 Percent of All Home Sales in October and Is Back to 2007 Levels

Molly Boesel    |    Housing Trends

  • The cash sales share was 31.8 percent in October
  • The distressed sales share fell 2.9 percentage points year over year from October 2015
  • The distressed sales share fell in all but eight states

Cash sales accounted for 31.8 percent of total home sales in October 2016, down 2.7 percentage points year over year from October 2015. The cash sales share peaked in January 2011 when cash transactions accounted for 46.6 percent of total home sales nationally. Prior to the housing crisis, the cash sales share of total home sales averaged approximately 25 percent. If the cash sales share continues to fall at the same rate it did in October 2016, the share should hit 25 percent by mid-2018.

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Figure 1 shows the historical trend in the cash sales share by sale type. Real estate owned (REO) sales had the largest cash sales share in October 2016 at 59.2 percent. Resales had the next highest cash sales share at 31.7 percent, followed by short sales at 30.2 percent and newly constructed homes at 15.9 percent. While the percentage of REO sales within the all-cash category remained high, REO transactions have declined since peaking in January 2011.

Figure 2 shows the distressed sales share of total home sales, of which REO sales made up 5 percent and short sales made up 2.6 percent in October 2016. The distressed sales share of 7.7 percent in October 2016 was the lowest distressed sales share for any month since October 2007. At its peak in January 2009, distressed sales totaled 32.4 percent of all sales with REO sales representing 27.9 percent of that share. The pre-crisis share of distressed sales was traditionally about 2 percent. If the current year-over-year decrease in the distressed sales share continues, it will reach that “normal” 2-percent mark in mid-2018.

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All but eight states recorded lower distressed sales shares in October 2016 compared with a year earlier. Maryland had the largest share of distressed sales of any state at 18.6 percent[1] in October 2016, followed by Connecticut (18.3 percent), Michigan (17 percent), New Jersey (15.8 percent) and Illinois (14.7 percent). North Dakota had the smallest distressed sales share at 2.7 percent. While some states stand out as having high distressed sales shares, only North Dakota and the District of Columbia are close to their pre-crisis levels (each within one percentage point).

Figure 3 shows the cash sales share by state[2] for October 2016. Alabama had the largest cash sales share of any state at 47.5 percent, followed by New York (44.5 percent), Indiana (41.8 percent), Florida (41.5 percent) and Missouri (38.8 percent).



1 The distressed sales share for states was calculated using sales from the past 12 months.

2 Adequate data was not available for New Jersey, South Dakota and Vermont, and as such, cash sales shares are not reported for these states.

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