While the sources of finance for new home sales have changed noticeably since the start of the Great Recession, cash sales remain more common for existing homes compared to new construction.
According to data from the Census Bureau’s Quarterly Sales by Price and Financing, the onset of the housing crisis in 2007 led to a decline in the share of new home sales due to conventional mortgage financing and increases in the shares due to mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), as well as cash purchases.
For the second quarter of 2013, the share of cash purchases rose slightly to 7.4%. The high point for cash purchases occurred in the third quarter of 2011 when the market share was a somewhat larger 7.9%. In contrast, for August existing home sales, cash purchases totaled 32%, compared to 27% in August 2012. The cash share for new homes is smaller because cash buyers in the existing home market are looking for bargains for rental purposes, while for-sale new construction is dominated by owner-occupiers.
New home sales due to FHA-backed loans stood at 17% of the market for the second quarter. This is down from 27.6% in the first quarter of 2010 but above the 10% 2002-2003 average. The market share of FHA-backed loans was higher during the 2009-2010 period due to the federal homebuyer tax credit.
VA-backed loans were responsible for 7.4% of new home sales during the second quarter of 2013.
These sources of financing serve distinct market segments, which is revealed in part by the median new home price allocable to each. For the second quarter, the median new home price due to FHA financing was $197,900. This is relatively unchanged from the average over the last two years of $199,700.
The median price for VA-backed loans was $273,300, higher than the two-year average of $234,100. Conventional mortgage financing had a median of $285,900, higher than the two-year average of $263,700.
Finally, the median price for cash purchases of new home sales rose substantially in the second quarter to $318,000. The two-year average is about $255,000. The rise in the price of the typical cash purchase reflects market mix issues, similar to force that have pushed up the size of a typical newly built single-family home: higher wealth buyers are in the market in greater concentration relative to other buyers, particularly younger, first-time buyers.
Additional annual data for this topic can be found in a recent NAHB study using information from the Census Survey of Construction.