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Cash buyers lift housing market

Industry News

The battered housing markets are being revived by confident buyers.

Wall Street Journal | February 8, 2011

Buyers in markets around the United States are snapping up homes in all-cash deals, betting that prices are at or near bottom and breathing life into some of the nation's most battered housing markets.

Cash buyers represented more than half of all transactions in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area last year, according to an analysis from real-estate portal Zillow.com. In the fourth quarter of 2006, they represented just 13 percent of deals. Meanwhile, downtown Miami prices rose 15 percent in 2010 from a year earlier, according to the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

The percentage of buyers in Phoenix paying cash hit 42 percent in 2010 – more than triple the rate in 2008, according to Raymond James's equity research division.

Nationally, 28 percent of sales were all-cash transactions last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. The rate was 14 percent in October 2008, when the trade group began tracking the measure.

The jump in real-estate purchases made with cash is another sign of the revival of animal spirits in the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69.48 points Monday, or 0.6 percent, to 12161.63, and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 8.18 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1319.05.

Monday's announcements of $13 billion in acquisitions lifted stocks on hopes of more deals, share buybacks and dividends as companies regain momentum in an improving economy.

The two stock indexes have soared more than 80 percent since early March 2009.

The Federal Reserve reported that Americans increased their use of credit cards in December for the first time since August 2008, showing that consumers are getting less skittish about opening their wallets. Investors also were soothed Monday by encouraging signs in Egypt, including last weekend's reopening of banks.

Residential real estate has been slower to bounce back than stocks, but the presence of apparent bargains is luring in newly confident buyers.

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