Original article available at Forbes.com
Buy outright or invest? This recent Forbes article showcases one man’s decision.
When a 62-year-old financial advisor bought a two-bedroom Manhattan co-op recently, he showed up at the closing with a check for the full $970,000 purchase price. No mortgage? “The money I had in cash was sitting getting 0% interest,’’ explains the man, who asked not to be named. “It made absolutely no sense to borrow.”
There were other benefits as well to buying for cash, he says. He figures he got a “liquidity discount” for being able to close quickly—the asking price had been $1.05 million. And he avoided the hassles and paperwork that come with getting a mortgage these days. At the closing, he gloats, “they spent more time making photocopies than anything, so we sat discussing Broadway plays.”
Similar closing scenes are playing out across the country these days—minus the theater chitchat. Rates for 30-year fixed mortgages are hovering at 4%, and 15-year fixed loans can be had for 3.5% or less, the lowest in more than 50 years. Yet the National Association of Realtors estimates that roughly 30% of U.S. home buyers are now making their purchases 100% in cash, compared with 15% in 2008.
Some cash buyers are foreigners, who have never easily qualified for U.S. mortgages. Some are very-high-net-worth folks who have long favored cash for their multimillion-dollar trophy mansion purchases. The increase in cash buying comes mainly from two other groups: real estate investors, who nowadays rarely qualify for mortgages at all, and older buyers (like the New York financial advisor) who could qualify for mortgages but don’t want to.
In foreclosure-plagued Florida, where prices in some areas are down 55% from the peak, investors and snowbirds bearing cash dominate the market. Charlie Brasington is chief executive of Hoffman Development Group, which since 2008 has been using cash from private investors to buy distressed Tampa- and Palm Beach-area condo buildings from banks. Hoffman fixes the properties up and then sells the units to end users. Brasington reports two-thirds of the roughly 300 units Hoffman has sold so far, through Engel & Völkers, have gone for cash, as have all eight of the $1 million-plus penthouses it has moved.
“These people probably have $5 million or more, so to take 10% of it out and buy a quality home in Florida and know that you’ve got your stake in the sand, that may be a good investment,” Brasington says. “Your cash is not making money in a CD, that’s for sure, and in the stock market there’s volatility. In real estate, sure, you may have some downward trend still, but there’s not that volatility anymore.”
A sales pitch? Sure. But recent cash buyers make similar points, and signs abound that Florida prices may have bottomed. If you’re considering a cash purchase, here are some pointers.
Continue reading at Forbes.com.