Cash buyers are exerting downward pressure on prices, according to a report in DSNews.com, quoting a study from HousingPulse Survey. This article points out that with distressed properties, the investors with cash dominate the market and that sellers often take lower cash offers because the deal can be closed faster with fewer problems. As a result, the first-time and FHA buyers are shut out of the entry-level distressed property market. This is a funny kind of capitalism in action. Free market means that the seller does not have to take the highest offer, they are free to choose a lower offer with cleaner terms.
But if you are a cash buyer and you want a really nice home, you don’t necessarily have the same influence on price. You may still get the deal, but only if you do offer the highest price. I could quote several stories over the last several years in which the winning bid in multiple offers was cash for homes that were not at the low end of the price range. I represented a buyer last year who purchased a couple of homes in La Canada and Pasadena by either paying cash or agreeing to no loan or appraisal contingencies. One of the highest sales in Eagle Rock last year was all cash, and this year I have seen cash buyers competing with each other on good properties, driving up the price as a result.
Where is all this cash coming from? Lots of places: investments that have been earning a fraction of a percent interest in CDs, sales of businesses, inheritances, divorces, lawsuits, and retirement accounts, even savings. Another source is the Bank of Mom and Dad, which sometimes is a gift and sometimes is a gift that is expected to be returned at some future time.
What does all this mean?
- Don’t make the assumption that if you have cash you will always win at a bargain price.
- Don’t believe everything you read about how bad the market is. There are a lot of people who are serious buyers today because they have faith in the value of real estate over the long term. And a lot of them have cash.