Home-seller profits hit another new high in 2019

Home sellers across the country realized a profit of $65,500 on the typical sale in 2019, the largest dollar value gain since 2006.

That’s according to Attom Data Solutions, which used median purchase and resale prices to calculate “typical” profit. Seller profits have grown consistently since 2011, when homeowners lost $45,000 on the typical sale. In 2017, home sellers realized a home price gain of $50,027, and in 2018, that grew to $58,100, making 2019’s figure a gain of 12.7% year over year.

Percentage-wise, home sellers realized a 34% return on their investment compared to their original purchase price in 2019, up 31.4% from the previous year. It’s the highest average home-seller ROI since 2016.

“The nation’s housing boom kept roaring along in 2019 as prices hit a new record, returning ever-higher profits to home sellers and posing ever-greater challenges for buyers seeking bargains,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. “In short, it was a great year to be a seller.”

There are some signs that the market was starting to temper. While both raw profits and ROI have risen nationwide for eight consecutive years, last year’s gains in ROI — less than three percentage points — and raw profit were the smallest since 2011.

“While low mortgage rates are propping up prices, the declining progress suggests some uncertainty going into the 2020 buying season,” said Teta.

Among metropolitan areas with at least 200,000 people, those in western states continue to see the highest returns on investment. Last year’s top four in ROI were the same cities that paced the country in 2018: San Jose (82.8% ROI), San Francisco (72.8%), Seattle (65.6%) and Merced, California (63.2%).

Among the 20 largest metro areas in the country, other notable returns on investment were seen in expensive coastal locales such as Los Angeles (54.1%); Portland, Oregon (54.1%); and Boston (48.3%). The highest dollar gains among those cities in 2019 were likewise mostly concentrated on the West Coast: San Francisco ($366,500), Los Angeles ($225,500), Seattle ($184,179) and San Diego ($179,000).

Attom’s study also confirmed that homeowners are staying in their homes longer. Homeowners who sold in 2019’s fourth quarter had owned their homes for an average of 8.21 years, up from 7.95 years year over year and from 8.08 years quarter over quarter. It’s the longest average home seller tenure since 2000’s first quarter — the earlier quarter in which data was available, per Attom.

Homeowners in some areas stayed put for even longer. The longest tenures for sellers in 2019’s fourth quarter were all in Connecticut: Norwich (13.49 years), New Haven (13.32 years) and Bridgeport-Stamford (13.23). Interestingly, 45 of the 108 metros analyzed by Attom ran counter to the national trend and saw a year-over-year decrease in average home-seller tenure, including Colorado Springs, Colorado (down 9%), Modesto, California (down 7%)l and Visalia, California (down 5%).


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