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Flipping Rates Fall as Home Prices Rise

ATTOM: Only 2.7% of single-family homes and condos in 1Q were considered a house flip down from 4.8% during 4Q 2020 and from 7.5% year-to-year.

NEW YORK – Investors are growing concerned about the difficulties to make money in flipping homes after a frenzy of buying activity has sent home prices climbing.

Only 2.7% of all single-family homes and condos in the first quarter were considered a house flip – transactions that occurred within 12 months of one another. That’s down from 4.8% during the fourth quarter of 2020 and down 7.5% from one year earlier, according to a new report from ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate research firm.

Gross profits are dropping, too. On the typical home flip – which reflects the difference between the median sales price and the median price paid by investors – gross profit declined nationwide in the first quarter to $63,500 – down from $71,000 in the fourth quarter of 2020. Profit margins for returns in the first quarter translated into a 37.8% return on investment compared to the original sales price.

Investors still chasing home flips appear to be speeding up transactions to capitalize on the current market. Flippers who sold homes in the first quarter took an average 159 days to complete their transactions, the lowest level since the third quarter of 2013.

“It’s too early to say for sure whether home flippers … have gone into an extended holding pattern,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM. “But the first quarter of 2021 certainly marked a notable downturn for the flipping industry, with the big drop in activity suggesting that investors may be worried that prices have simply gone up too high. After riding the housing boom along with others for years, they now might be having second thoughts. Whether this is the leading edge of a broader market downturn is little more than speculation.”

Additional highlights from ATTOM Data Solutions’ 1Q flipping report

  • Home flipping rates fell in 70% of 108 local markets tracked. The largest quarterly decreases – down by nearly 70% or more – in home flipping occurred in Memphis, Tenn.; Lakeland, Fla.; San Francisco; Columbia, S.C.; and Palm Bay, Fla.
  • The largest increases in quarterly home-flipping rates occurred in Springfield, Mass. (up 114%); Albuquerque, N.M. (up 103%); Springfield, Ill. (up 95%); South Bend, Ind. (up 86%); and Boston, Mass. (up 79%).
  • Homes flipped in the first quarter were sold for a median price of $231,500, down 3.9% compared to the fourth quarter. It’s the first quarterly decrease in typical resale prices since the fourth quarter of 2018, and the largest quarterly decline since the first quarter of 2011.
  • The largest quarterly increases in profit margins during the first quarter were in Springfield, Mo. (ROI up 120%); Provo, Utah (up 118%); Omaha, Neb. (up 101%); Lynchburg, Va. (up 101%); and Pittsburgh, Pa. (up 88%).
  • The biggest quarterly investment-return decreases in home flipping during the first quarter occurred in Memphis, Tenn. (ROI down 64%); Austin, Texas (down 54%); Houston (down 50%); New Orleans, La. (down 38%); and Louisville, Ky. (down 37%).
  • The portion of flipped homes in the first quarter that were purchased with cash by investors rose to 59.2%. About 41% of homes flipped in the first quarter had been bought with financing.

Source: ATTOM Data Solutions

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