A sea change in the housing recovery is underway. Current homeowners are providing much of the buying power currently driving the housing market, while investors are continuing to lose steam in the face of rapidly escalating home prices.
Those are some of the major findings contained in the latest Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey results.
The new HousingPulse data show that current homeowners were the only group that saw its share of home purchases rise last month – from 43.8 percent in May to 44.6 percent in June based a three-month moving average. First-time homebuyers witnessed a slight drop in market share, going from 36.0 to 35.7 percent during the same one-month period.
But the bigger story was the continuing slide in investor participation in the housing market. In June, the investor share of home purchase transactions fell to 19.7 percent, HousingPulse results show. That was down from a 23.1 percent share found as recently as February and the lowest level recorded since September of 2012.
The most recent Realtors Confidence Index, from May, found that approximately 18 percent of Realtors participating in the survey by NAR reported making a sale to investors who were active in buying distressed properties and paying cash. Of respondents reporting a sale to an investor, 74 percent reported a cash sale. Approximately 28 percent of respondents made a sale to a first time home buyer (29 percent in April). Normally, first time buyers are in the neighborhood of 40 percent. Of those reporting a sale to a first time home buyer, approximately 12 percent reported a cash sale.
There were other signs of a major pullback by investors. The HousingPulse investor traffic index was down for the fourth month in a row in June, falling more sharply than either the current homeowner traffic index or the first-time homebuyer index.
Survey respondents attribute the ongoing decline in investor activity to rising home prices and less opportunity for investors to flip homes. This is particularly true in some of the hottest markets in the country.
“Investors have left our market with rising house prices,” reports a real estate agent in Arizona. “Values have increased by 20 percent since January and investors are backing away,” adds an agent doing business in California.
Another factor in the slide in investor activity is the supply of distressed properties, which has been shrinking at a rapid rate. The HousingPulse Distressed Property Index shows that the percentage of home purchases involving foreclosures or short sales tumbled to 28.2 percent in June, a big drop from the 40.3 percent level recorded a year earlier. It also was the lowest distressed property share recorded in at least three and half years.
The Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking Survey involves approximately 2,000 real estate agents nationwide each month and provides up-to-date intelligence on home sales and mortgage usage patterns.