Although total cash sales decreased from last year’s 37% to 35% in the first quarter of 2016, they make up the majority of sales in the bottom 20% of the market value, according to Black Knight’s Mortgage Monitor.

The report broke down each core-based statistical area into five equal price tiers, which showed that cash sales make up 62% of the total cash sales for the bottom 20%, but only 30% of the top 20% of market value.

“As the inventory of distressed properties has dried up nationwide, the overall share of cash sales has been on the decline as well,” said Ben Graboske, Black Knight data and analytics senior vice president.

“From a peak of 45% of all real estate transactions back in Q1 2011, cash sales accounted for just 35% of home purchases in the first quarter of 2016,” Graboske said. “What’s striking though, is the disparity between the high and low ends of the market. While down significantly from its peak of 75% of all transactions at the bottom of the housing market, this is still quite high for cash sales, historically.”

Graboske explains that there are two causes for the high number of cash sales.

“The prevalence of cash sales at the low end of the market can likely be chalked up to two primary factors,” Graboske said. “First, negative equity is still higher than average among this segment of the market, resulting in increased distressed discounts for buyers. Second, lower-priced homes simply require less capital to purchase outright, making cash sales possible for more people.”

Another factor to consider with the historically high percentage of cash sales is that RealtyTrac, a source for comprehensive housing data, just announced that 6.6% of total single family home and condo sales in the first quarter of 2016 were flips, according to its Q1 2016 U.S. Home Flipping Report. House flippers bought 71% of these homes with cash. 

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