Bargain hunters scooped up more foreclosed homes in 2013 — and many of them paid all cash.
Sales of foreclosed and distressed homes made up 16.2% of all home sales last year, up from 14.5% in 2012, according to RealtyTrac. Overall, U.S. home sales were up 10% year-over-year.
And many deals were done in cold, hard cash. All-cash deals accounted for 29.1% of all home purchases last year, up significantly from 19.4% the year before, RealtyTrac said.
The surge in sales of distressed properties comes despite the fact that far fewer Americans lost their homes to foreclosure last year.
“It may surprise some to see distressed sales rising in 2013 given that foreclosure starts dropped to a seven-year low for the year,” said Daren Blomquist, spokesman for RealtyTrac. “[But] there are still more than 1.2 million properties in the foreclosure process or bank-owned, providing a sizable pool of inventory that the housing market is in the process of absorbing.”
Distressed properties are attractive to buyers because they tend to be significantly cheaper. The median home price of a foreclosed or bank-owned property was $108,500 in December compared with $174,400 for non-distressed properties.
Institutional investors, including hedge funds and private equity groups, were buying up homes of all types last year including foreclosures. During the year, 7.3% of all home sales were to investors, up from 5.1% the year before.