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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Cash Buyers Competing with First Time Home Buyers

by Calculated Risk on 1/02/2010 11:01:00 PM

From Dina ElBoghdady at the WaPo: Cash-rich real estate investors trigger bidding wars, frustrate other buyers

Investors have reemerged with brute force in the Washington region's real estate market over the past few months, triggering bidding wars in some neighborhoods teeming with foreclosed properties and hindering traditional home buyers ...

"What's happening in this area reflects what's happening in other parts of the country," said Sam Khater, senior economist at First American CoreLogic, which plans to release a report soon on all-cash deals. "In markets where price declines have been steep, we've seen quite a bit of competition between the low-end, first-time home buyers and investors."
"There are bidding wars out there. It's like the 2005 market but at discount prices," said Stella Barbour, a real estate agent at Jobin Realty in Northern Virginia.
We've been seeing a competition all year between cash flow investors and first time home buyers in California. This has pushed up prices in many low end distressed areas (but not all).

Back in early 2005, I drew a couple of rough supply-demand diagrams viewing the bubble era speculative buying as storage. This pushed up prices during the bubble (removing properties from supply), and pushed down prices during the bust (forced selling added to the supply). Unlike those speculators, many of the current cash flow investors are probably happy with the return and won't be forced sellers. But they could become sellers in the future, limiting future appreciation.

And it is important to remember that the numbers don't work for investors in the mid-to-high end areas (the rent to price ratio is lower), so this competition is mostly in the low end areas - the same areas that attract first time home buyers.

These bidding wars should be setting off some alarm bells with regulators - not because of the cash flow investors, but because of the loose lending standards for FHA loans.