U.S. home sellers in March sold their homes for $30,500 more than the purchase price, a 17% average gain in price and the highest average gain for home sellers since December 2007, according to RealtyTrac’s Q1 U.S. Home Sales report.
The report is based on publicly recorded sales deeds collected and licensed by RealtyTrac in more than 900 counties, accounting for more than 80% of the U.S. population. Among 125 metropolitan statistical areas with at least 300 sales in March, home sellers realized the biggest average gains compared to purchase price in San Francisco (72% average gain); San Jose, Calif. (60%); Boulder, Col. (53%); Prescott, Ariz. (51%); and Los Angeles (48%)."Home sellers in many markets are now seeing average price gains close to or above what home sellers experienced during the last housing boom," said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. "That should encourage more homeowners to take advantage of the prime seller’s market and list their homes for sale this year. Banks are already taking advantage of that market as evidenced by the uptick in the distressed sales share over the last two quarters.”Distressed sales, including bank-owned sales, in-foreclosure sales and short sales, accounted for 18.2% of all single family and condo sales in the first quarter, up from 17.2% in the previous quarter — the second consecutive quarter with an increase — but still down from 20.8% in the first quarter of 2015. The distressed sales share peaked nationwide at 44.0% in the first quarter of 2009. "Given that bank-owned homes are selling at a median price that is 40% below the overall median sales price nationwide, the uptick in distressed sales combined with affordability constraints are contributing to faltering home price appreciation in some markets - most notably the bellwether markets of Washington, D.C. and San Francisco," Blomquist said.Other markets with average seller gains more than twice the national average in March were Denver (42%); Portland, Ore. (40%); Austin, Texas (40%); Seattle (38%); Baltimore (38%); Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. (37%); San Diego (36%); and Sacramento, Calif. (35%)."Over the past year Seattle-area home prices have risen 11 percent to $360,000," said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market. "While we’re not quite to our 2007 peak, this does officially push us into the top 10 highest median home prices in the country — a list traditionally dominated by Californian markets. Despite the pace at which home prices have been rising in Seattle, I’m not concerned about a bubble. Mortgage rates remain very favorable, and our region’s high performing economy continues to boost the local housing market.”Among 110 metro areas with at least 1,000 single family and condo sales in the first quarter, those with the highest share of distressed sales were Chicago (31.0%); Flint, Mich. (29.9%); Baltimore (28.8%); Tallahassee, Fla. (28.1%); and Jacksonville, Fla. (27.6%). Metros with the biggest year-over-year increase in share of distressed sales were Little Rock, Ark. (up 45%); Buffalo, N.Y. (up 30%); Pittsburgh (up 16%), Milwaukee (up 14%); and Greeley, Col. (up 12%).Among the nation’s 20 largest metro areas, three reported a year-over-year increase in the share of distressed sales: New York (up 3%); Washington, D.C. (up 4%); and Boston (up 5%).Buyers using loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration - typically first-time buyers or boomerang buyers with a low down payment - accounted for 15.2% of all single family and condo sales in the first quarter, up from 14.8% in the previous quarter and up from 13.5% a year ago.