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HomeCash continues to dominate home sales in South Florida, a new report shows.

Roughly six of 10 Palm Beach County buyers paid cash in the third quarter, down slightly from a year ago but still well above the national average of 33.9 percent, according to RealtyTrac, a foreclosure listing firm based in Irvine, Calif.

In Broward County, cash accounted for 57.3 percent of all sales from July through September, compared with 60.8 percent a year earlier.

In the South Florida metro area, which also includes Miami-Dade County, 59.1 percent of home sales didn't require a mortgage, the highest percentage in the nation, RealtyTrac said.

The tri-county region's historical average for cash sales over the past 14 years is 47 percent.

Daren Blomquist, a vice president of RealtyTrac, said he expects cash to slowly lose influence as large investment firms pull back on purchases.

"But you're still going to have interest from international buyers and retirees," Blomquist said Wednesday. "South Florida is the mecca for cash sales."

Fort Myers, Sarasota, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Melbourne ranked right behind South Florida in percentage of cash sales among metro areas nationwide. Florida led all states at 53.5 percent.

With loans harder to come by after the housing bust, cash purchases have propped up the region's housing market. Because of the uncertainty of buyers qualifying for mortgages, sellers are more likely to accept offers that don't require financing.

"From the seller's perspective, you're not waiting 30 or 40 days to see if the buyer can get a mortgage," said Cathy Prenner, a real estate agent for Campbell & Rosemurgy in Palm Beach and Broward counties. "A wise seller will take slightly less from a cash buyer because after the inspection, you know it's a done deal."

Home inspections aren't required if no mortgage is involved, but most buyers still want to give the house a once-over. Appraisals and property insurance — two other potential deal-breakers — also aren't necessary in a cash deal.

But the abundance of cash sales is shutting out first-time buyers and young families, the foundation of a healthy housing market, analysts say. While the South Florida market has cooled, first-time buyers often complain they can't compete in bidding wars with deep-pocketed investors.

Beverly Rothstein, an agent in Coral Springs and Boca Raton, said she had a young couple lose three homes to cash offers.

"It was all people who wanted to buy and flip or buy and rent it out — and my clients actually wanted to live in the home," Rothstein said.

Eventually, a home popped up on the multiple listing service, and the couple made an offer that same day. They even wrote a letter to the sellers, expressing how much the property would mean to them.

In the end, Rothstein said, her clients ended up with the house, even though the sellers had cash offers in hand.

Make sure your home is protected. Call Prestige Insurance Group, Inc. at (305) 969-8776 for more information on Miami home insurance.

(Article courtesy: Paul Owers via Sun Sentinel)
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