The percentage of all cash sales (all cash, no loans) rose in July, but the actual number of sales, shown immediately below, shrank a little. I pulled this data from the MLS today and it’s reflective of whatever the listing agent entered into the fields for financing.

Number of Cash Sales of Single Family Homes in Santa Clara County

 

Percentage of All cash sales, month by month, in Santa Clara County (single family homes)

Next, the actual percentage of all cash sales in the county for houses and duet homes.

Percentage of All Cash Sales in Santa Clara County for Jan 2013 - July 2023

 

The average for the 11 Julys shown is 13.9%, so July 2023 with 15.7% is interesting to see. Interest rates have skyrocketed over the last 14 months, forcing home prices down in the 2nd half of 2022. It’s a little surprising that we did not see a surge of cash buyers then, but their numbers stayed in the typical range from what I’m seeing.

Now, in mid 2023, we have seen both interest rates and home prices rising – at least for the first 6 months of the year – in most of the valley.

Cash buyers are usually investors, but not always. Sometimes they are homeowners who sold their long held family home and are now downsizing and buying with the proceeds of the larger home that they just sold. We don’t get that piece of data from the MLS, but anecdotally, that’s what I’m seeing with the cash offers I’m seeing and hearing about.

 

What does it mean that cash buyers are an increasing percentage of the closed sales?

  • Rising interest rates not only don’t harm the all cash, no loans buyers, it actually helps them as it weakens their competition
  • These buyers may be feeling more confident with the softened market and easier buying conditions generally
  • My thinking when we saw interest rates rising is that it would help the mortgage free buyer more than anyone else – that seems to be the case.

Historically, what has happened with the percentage of all cash sales in this county?

During the early part of the downturn (2008 – 2010), the percentage of all cash sales was not only in single digits, but for the couple of windows I pulled up, it was in the 3% to 4% range (spring 2006 and spring 2007).

This is a data point to watch.

When the ratio or percentage of all cash sales is low, for home sellers, it may suggest that conditions are not as strong as in recent months for selling. For buyers, it may imply that conditions are a little better for writing offers closer to list price and for keeping all of your contingencies. We’ll need to chart other numbers, too, such as the average sales to list price, the absorption rate, etc. to be sure.

Right now, though, about 12% of the sales are all cash, and it’s really NOT an easy time for buyers as most sales involve overbids (often 110 – 120% or more of list price) and no contingencies.

Summary:

I think you could read the percentage of all cash buyers as a data point of home buyer’s confidence in the real estate market. Right now, that percentage is a little higher than most Julys since  the pandemic period began. So it seems, generally, to be holding steady.

We are in a strange time with interest rates being high, inventory being critically low, and concerns of a possible recession coming. (Last I heard it’s estimated at a 35% risk?)  Despite these and other issues, local and global, people still want to buy homes in Silicon Valley. As always, and in every market, they are taking risks and making sacrifices to make it happen.

To me, this is a good sign.

 

Related Reading to Percentage of All Cash Sales:

Why do sellers care if the offer has a loan or is all cash?

Cash offers: what do you need to know if buying “all cash”?

What is a contingent offer?