Cash Finances Smallest Share of New Home Sales Since 2010

NAHB analysis of the most recent Quarterly Sales by Price and Financing published by the Census Bureau reveals that just 4.7% of new home sales in the first quarter of 2017 were purchased with cash—down from the most recent peak of 9.5% in the fourth quarter of 2014. In contrast, the share of new home sales financed with conventional mortgages rose to 72.0%, its second-highest share since the fourth quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, FHA loan market share continued its upward trend, rising from14.4% to 14.7%.

Census data and NAHB calculations show that new home sales backed by VA products rose to 22,000 (+4,000) in the first quarter of 2017, though market share fell from 8.8% to 8.1%. The market share of VA loans averaged just 2.9% between the 2001 recession and the Great Recession, but has averaged 9.3% since the U.S. economy came out of recession in 2009.

It is worth adopting some caution associated with the Census market share estimates. In particular, the statistical error associated with the FHA, cash, and VA sales estimates from this data set are relatively high. This reduces the reliability of measures of short-term market changes.

Mindful of this limitation, over the long run the current FHA share is roughly one-half the 28% share determined for the first quarter of 2010 but still elevated compared to the 2002-2003 average of 10%.

Although cash sales make up a small portion of new home sales, they constitute a considerably larger share of existing home sales. In February 27% of existing home transactions were all-cash sales—the highest share since November 2015—according to estimates from the National Association of Realtors.

It is also worth noting that a different measure from CoreLogic shows a higher market share for cash sales for new construction: 17.7% in January.

FHA-backed loans were responsible for 14.7% of new home sales during the first quarter of 2017. Although the share has increased in two consecutive quarters, it remains more than twice its pre-recession average of 6.4%.

Conventional financing has expanded as the housing recovery has grown. The market share of new home sales with conventional financing was 62.2% in 2009 and 72.0% in the first quarter of 2017. This share has remained between 68% and 75% over the past four years.

Different sources of financing serve distinct market segments, which is revealed in part by the median new home price associated with each. In the first quarter, the national median sales price of a new home was $306,000. Split by types of financing, the median prices of new homes financed with conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, and cash were $335,100, $212,200, $293,200, and $379,400, respectively.



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