Real Estate

Investors Snapped Up A Record Share Of Homes In The Spring Buying Season

As Congress investigates potential factors that are contributing to today’s housing shortage, a new Realtor.com analysis shows investors scooped up a record share of for-sale homes in the spring home buying season.

While investor purchases softened in January and February, investor purchases in April were up 31% over the same time in 2021 and 64% over the same time in 2019, while overall sales were down 8% compared to last year and up only 7% compared to 2019.

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In April, investors bought a near-record high share of homes, snapping up 9.5% of homes sold during the month, up 2.8 percentage points from the same time last year, but slightly lower than the 9.7% peak share in February. In other words, investor behavior has roughly mirrored non-investor behavior since February after months of investor enthusiasm outpacing non-investor buyers.

The investor share of home sales has moderated slightly from its February 2022 all-time high, but remains roughly double its 2014-2015 level. After declining in the early months of the pandemic, investors have gained back their share of home purchases over the past two years, outpacing growth among non-investors and hitting a new high share of home sales of 9.7% in February 2022.

However, since February, investor purchases have moderated roughly in line with non-investor purchases, bringing their overall purchase share to 9.5%. Still, the share of investor buyers today is roughly double the share at the same point in 2014 and 2015.

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As investors pulled back on buying activity in late 2021 and early 2022 they appeared to be on track to sell more than buy in the spring, boosting overall home inventory. Investor buying activity resumed, however, and investors continue to buy more homes than they sell, competing with home buyers more than sellers. iBuyers, however, have recently become net sellers of real estate.

Investors took more inventory off the market than they added to it in April and bought homes at 10% lower median prices than they sold them. However, investors did sell more homes than during the prior year (+24%).

Nationally, investor purchases made up 9.5% of home sales in April, just shy of the February peak (9.7%) and up 64% over 2019. Nearly three-quarters of investors paid in cash (72.2%).

On average, the 10 fastest-growing investor buying markets offer more affordable home prices ($372,000) than the U.S. median ($425,000), led by Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and Birmingham, Alabama.

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By size, large investors purchased 35% of investor homes in 2021 up from 28% in 2019 and 22% in 2015. The large investor purchase market share has taken a step back from its fall 2021 peak. Despite its recent retreat, however, large investors purchased roughly one of every three investor-bought homes, taking market share from both small and medium-size investors.

Investor purchase activity is highest in the South, which has seen the greatest growth in investor purchase activity in the last 12 months. The Midwest had the second-highest share among regions, while the West saw the second-largest increase in investor buying share. Increases in the South and West were largely driven by an increase in large investor activity.

Consistent with regional trends, markets in the South and West such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; and Birmingham, Alabama saw the greatest increase in the share of investor home buying activity in the last 12 months.

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In 2021, investor home purchases grew by 64% over 2020, a year in which investor activity was negatively affected by the pandemic. Still, investor activity was higher than it was prior to the pandemic’s disruptions as 2021 purchases grew by 39% compared to 2019. While investor purchases softened in January and February of this year, in April, investor purchases were up 31% over the previous year and 64% over the same time in 2019, while overall sales were down 8% compared to last year and up only 7% compared to 2019.

The share of homes purchased by investors has continued to rise and remained near historical highs. In April, investors purchased 9.5% of homes, down from a peak of 9.7% in February but up by 2.8 percentage points compared to the previous year.

This high share is driven by growth in investor purchase counts and a pullback from non-investor buyers, who purchased 11% fewer homes in April compared with the same time a year earlier. However, while the investor share of home purchases remained almost double the rate in April 2015 (4.8%), the growth rate in this share has finally declined compared to February after almost 19 consecutive months of growth.

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