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Cash deals driving national, regional housing markets

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Cash continues to pad its stats as king — at least in residential real estate.

California-based RealtyTrac Inc. today reported that 42.7 percent of all U.S. home sales in the first quarter were all-cash deals. That’s the highest since the company began tracking all-cash purchases three years ago.

The midstate is experiencing a similar trend.

Cash sales accounted for 37.8 percent of U.S. transactions in the fourth quarter and 19.1 percent in the first three months of 2013, according to RealtyTrac.

Institutional investors — entities that have purchased at least 10 properties in a calendar year — made up 5.6 percent of home sales last quarter. That was down from 7 percent a year ago.

“Strict lending standards combined with low inventory continue to give the advantage to investors and other cash buyers in this housing market,” said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president. “The good news is that as institutional buyers pull back their purchasing in many markets across the country, there is still strong demand from other cash buyers — including individual investors, second-home buyers and even owner-occupant buyers — to fill the vacuum of demand left by institutional investors.”

In Central Pennsylvania, Lebanon County led the way in the first quarter with all-cash sales accounting for 37.1 percent. That was up from 24.8 percent a year ago, according to RealtyTrac.

York-Hanover was No. 2 at 35.2 percent, which was up from 19.6 percent in first quarter 2013. All-cash sales in Lancaster County accounted for 32.3 percent, which was up from 19.8 percent, followed by Harrisburg-Carlisle at 31.4 percent compared to 16.9 percent a year ago.

The top five highest percentages of cash sales were all in Florida metropolitan areas. Cape Coral-Fort Myers led the way at 73.6 percent, according to RealtyTrac.

Properties in foreclosure made up 15 percent of all-cash purchases in the first quarter. And 11 percent of cash deals involved institutional investors.

The average sale price of an all-cash purchase in the first quarter was $207,668, or 13 percent below the average estimated full market value, according to RealtyTrac.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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