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Chasing depleting deals

Housing investors in Calif. shifting from urban to rural

LOS ANGELES -- Given the depletion of distressed homes on the market, investors are changing their strategy and are moving away from purchasing homes in more popular, urban areas in favor of more rural areas of the state where better deals can be found, according to a California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) investor survey.

In 2014, nearly half (45 percent) of investors said they purchased properties in such counties as Sacramento, San Joaquin, Fresno, Kern, Merced, and Tulare, up from 27 percent in 2013, C.A.R.'s “2014 Investor Survey” found.

Fifteen percent of investors purchased properties in Northern California in 2014, down from 27 percent in 2013, and 40 percent purchased properties in Southern California in 2014, down from 50 percent last year.

Additionally, with home prices on the rise, more investors are flipping properties instead of renting them.

In 2014, 28 percent of investors flipped the property, up from 20 percent last year. Fifty-eight percent of investors rented their properties in 2014, down from 73 percent in 2013.

More than eight out of 10 investors (83 percent) own other investment properties, with 7 percent owning more than 10 properties, 17 percent owning 6-10 properties, 47 percent owning 2-5 properties, and 12 percent owning one other property.

Among the reasons investors cited for buying now include profit potential (cited by 58 percent), good price (43 percent), location (26 percent), personal (21 percent), and low interest rates (14 percent).

The median sales price of an investment property in 2014 was $320,000, up 9.6 percent from $292,000 in 2013, reflecting increasing home prices and fewer available distressed properties over the past year.

Additional findings from C.A.R.'s “2014 Investor Survey” include:

• Reflecting the recovering housing market, the majority of investment properties purchased (70 percent) were equity sales, while 18 percent were short sales, and 12 percent were foreclosures.

• More than two-thirds (67 percent) of investors paid cash

• One-third of investors were foreign investors, with China, Mexico, Taiwan, and India being the top countries of origin.

• While most investors made minor or no repairs to the properties, the percentage of those who did major remodeling nearly doubled from 9 percent in 2013 to 17 percent this year.

• Investors spent more on remodeling costs in 2014, putting a median of $15,000 into the investment property, up 50 percent from $10,000 in 2013.

• Investors own an average of 8.3 properties in 2014, up from 6.5 properties last year.

• More than half of investors (55 percent) intend to keep the property less than six years.

C.A.R.'s “2014 California Investor Survey” was conducted in May 2014 in an effort to learn more about the role of investors in the California housing market. The survey was emailed to a random sample of REALTORS® throughout California who had worked with investors within the 12 months prior to May 2014.

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