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House Flipping Less Common—Is that a Good Sign?

A new report finds that "house flipping"—one of the more conspicuous signifiers of the last real estate boom—has slowed on average in recent months. Does that mean the residential market has found a sane balance?
May 3, 2014, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Michael Gerrity reports on RealtyTrac's recently released U.S. Home Flipping Report, which finds house flips accounting for fewer of the nation's home sales. For the first quarter of 2014, according to the report, "3.7 percent of all U.S. single family home sales were flips…in the first quarter of 2014, down from 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and down from 6.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013."

Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac is quoted in the story to explain the implications of the data, which are several: "Slowing home price appreciation early this year in many of the most popular flipping markets put some investors in danger of flying too close to the sun…But investors appear to have recalibrated their flipping strategy, accounting for the slower home price appreciation even if that means fewer flips. This is another good sign that this housing recovery is behaving much more rationally than the last housing boom, which was built largely on unfounded speculation rather than fact-based calculations."

The article also includes a lot more market-specific data about where house flipping is more common, and where it's earning investors more money. One such factoid ranks major metros in terms of how many sales were flips: "Among metro areas with a population of at least 1 million and at least 25 single family homes flipped in the first quarter, those with the highest share of flips in the first quarter were New York (10.2 percent), Jacksonville, Fla., (10.0 percent), San Diego (7.1 percent), Las Vegas (6.7 percent) and Miami (5.9 percent)."

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