From the WSJ via Calculated Risk – an excerpt on cash buyers:
Residential real estate has been slower to bounce back than stocks, but the presence of apparent bargains is luring in newly confident buyers.
Richard Stoker, a retired sales executive, recently plunked down cash for two condominiums in Miami Beach, and plans to close on one more in coming days. He loves the complex’s ocean views, four swimming pools and activities such as yoga and Pilates.
But what also motivated the purchase, said the 73-year-old, was that “the prices were just irresistible. Florida’s been hit pretty hard.” To pay the $1.8 million, $1.2 million and $1 million prices on the condos, Mr. Stoker and his wife, Jane, cashed out of some financial investments and sold a Roy Lichtenstein painting and an Alexander Calder mobile.
Mr. Stoker could have taken out mortgages, but decided to pay cash. “It was a good time to lighten up in the art market and take on real estate at a favorable price,” he said.
The Stokers have a home in Potomac, Md., but spend most of the year in Florida. Mr. Stoker doesn’t plan to rent out any of his new properties, saying he and his wife will live in one with two dogs, his son might live in another and the third will house an older dog and guests.
The harder a market has been hit, say economists, the higher the percentage of cash deals. Last summer, piano teacher Virginia Hall-Busch told a real-estate agent she met through the Rotary Club to keep her posted on deals on historic houses in Stone Mountain, Ga.
A few days later, Ms. Hall-Busch, 62, got a call about a 1918 bungalow with three bedrooms and one bathroom listed for “short sale,” which in the real-estate world means at a price lower than what’s owed on it. The home had been on the market for $159,000, then dropped to $129,000 and then to $79,900.
“I offered them 50,” she said. “I figured, it wasn’t like I needed a place to live. I can afford to be a little cocky here.”
Ms. Hall-Busch closed in October for $52,500 and began renovations within weeks.
“When you have a bad economy, it’s hard on lots of people,” she said. “But right now if you’ve got the money to put down on a house, long term it’s going to be good thing.”