NAHB analysis of the Census Bureau Survey of Construction (SOC) data shows that non-conventional forms of financing new single-family home purchases remained elevated in 2015, accounting for more than a third of the market.
Looking at new single-family homes started in 2015, the South Atlantic division was most dependent on non-conventional financing, with its share exceeding 40% of the market. The West South Central and New England divisions registered similarly high shares but relied on very different types of non-conventional financing. In New England, a third of all homes started in 2015 were cash purchases, while loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) accounted for less than 3% of the market. In contrast, homebuyers in the South Atlantic and West South Central division relied more heavily on FHA- and VA-backed loans that together accounted for more than 26% and 21% of the market, respectively.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the East South Central division where only 16% of new homes started in 2015 were financed using non-conventional methods. This share is less than half of the US average of 34.5%, making it the lowest share of non-conventional financing in the nation.
The Pacific and Mountain divisions registered shares of non-conventional financing methods close to the US average, 34% and 36%, respectively. In the middle Atlantic division, one in four single-family homes started in 2015 was financed by non-conventional means. While in the West North Central and East North Central divisions, only one in five new home buyers relied on non-conventional financing.
For homes started in 2015, the share of mortgages insured by the FHA bumped up, especially in the Pacific and South Atlantic divisions where FHA loans accounted for 19% and 18%, respectively. This was largely due to a reduction in FHA mortgage insurance premiums implemented at the start of 2015. As a result, FHA-backed loans regained their status as the most prevalent form of non-conventional financing of new home purchases – the status they temporarily lost to cash purchases a year earlier following the implemented decline in the 2014 FHA loan limits.
The share of VA-backed loans remained relatively stable in 2015, accounting for just over 6% of the market. However, their share was almost twice as high, approaching 12%, in the Mountain division, the only region in the nation where the share of VA-backed loans exceeded that of cash purchases and other types of financing combined.
The share of cash purchases declined in 2015, most dramatically in the Mountain division, where cash purchases lost half of its market share. Overall, cash purchases accounted for 10 percent of the market. New England registered the nation’s highest share, with one in three new homes started in 2015 purchased with cash. The Middle Atlantic and East North Central divisions registered the second and third highest shares – 15% and 14%, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum is the East South Central division where less than 7% of single-family starts were financed with cash.
The high prevalence of cash financing in the New England, East North Central and Middle Atlantic divisions can be partially explained by the popularity of custom homebuilding in these divisions, with all three claiming the top three custom home market shares in 2015. Custom homes are more likely to be financed with cash, especially if built by the owner acting as the general contractor. In 2015, more than 36% of custom homes built by the owner were financed with cash, while less than 7 percent of spec homes were purchased with cash.
Other types of non-conventional financing methods – such as the Rural Housing Service, Habitat for Humanity, loans from individuals, state or local government mortgage-backed bonds and other – are particularly popular in the West South Central division (7.6%) and South Atlantic division (5.7%), both exceeding the national average of 4.5%.
The East South Central division, where more than 30% of new homes were started in rural areas, reported close to a 4% share of other type of financing, most likely through the Rural Housing Service.