What Is the Prevalence of Cash Offers on Houses in 2024?

In the past year, cash offers on houses have become increasingly common. With many mortgage-reliant buyers opting to wait out historically high interest rates, this shift towards cash purchases has created a fast-paced, competitive environment for homeowners looking to sell. 

While mortgage rates are expected to decrease slightly in 2024, the current rate hikes and drop in mortgage demand are making room for more cash buyers, leading many to seriously consider the option for the first time. 

Whether you built up your nest egg over time or want to start the selling process of your home and relocate, this article breaks down the considerations involved in cash offers. 

What Are Cash Offers?

In the real estate sector, a cash offer refers to a home purchase made without the need for a mortgage loan. Rather than obtaining financing through a mortgage, the home buyer uses their own funds to pay the full sale price upfront. 

With mortgage rates and home prices at historically high levels, cash buyers, ranging from individuals with cash on hand from selling a previous home to "we buy houses" firms, have sprung up, offering a quick, assured sale that’s attractive to many sellers.

How Do Cash Offers Compare to Traditional Mortgage Loans?

Cash offers and traditional mortgage loans differ significantly for both buyers and sellers. With a traditional sale and mortgage, the home buyer makes a down payment and repays the balance plus interest to a mortgage lender over a specified time period. This process involves underwriting and a home inspection but requires a minimal down payment upfront compared to a cash offer.

Cash sales tend to close faster than traditional sales, often within a few weeks compared to the usual 30-45 days. This speed and certainty can be a major advantage in a competitive real estate market, where sellers may favor a quick, assured sale over a higher offer that is contingent on mortgage approval. However, paying the full purchase price for a home requires significant preparation and capital that many can’t generate quickly. 

Does the Homebuying Process Change When Making a Cash Offer?

The homebuying process changes significantly when making a cash offer, bringing a unique set of advantages, particularly in a market where high mortgage rates have caused some potential buyers to back out.

No Mortgage Approval Needed

In a cash purchase, there is no need for mortgage approval. This means that buyers avoid the typical requirements of mortgage lenders, such as income verification, credit score checks, and debt-to-income ratios.

Faster Closing Time

Eliminating the need for mortgage approval also significantly reduces closing time. While a traditional sale may take 30-45 days to close, a cash sale can be completed in just a few weeks or less. This means the buyer can move into their new home or start earning rental income quicker.

Fewer Contingencies

Cash offers often come with fewer contingencies, which are conditions that must be met before the sale can close. Traditional sales often include financing and appraisal contingencies, but these are removed in a cash sale. This reduces the risk of the deal falling through and provides more certainty for both the buyer and seller.

Reduced Paperwork

Without the need for a mortgage, the amount of paperwork involved in the transaction is significantly reduced. This simplifies the process for both parties and can make the transaction faster.

Appraisal Optional

Since no lender is involved in a cash sale, ordering an appraisal is optional and up to the buyer. This removes another step from the buying process and can save the buyer time and money.

What Are the Benefits of Making a Cash Offer?

Increased Negotiating Power

Making a cash offer gives the buyer increased negotiating power. Sellers may be more likely to accept a lower offer from cash home buyers because it offers certainty and speed.

Lower Purchase Price

As a cash buyer, you may be able to negotiate a lower purchase price. Sellers may be willing to accept a lower offer in exchange for the speed and certainty of a cash sale, especially if it means they can sell the home as is without making any renovations or repairs or going through multiple showings.

No Loan Costs

By paying cash, buyers avoid the costs associated with a mortgage, including interest payments, application fees, and closing costs. Over time, these savings can be significant.

Quick Sale Process

The process of buying a house with cash is often significantly faster than when a mortgage is involved. This can be particularly beneficial in a competitive market, where being able to speed up the closing process quickly can make the difference between securing a property and missing out.

Reduced Risk of Deal Falling Through

Cash offers come with a reduced risk of the deal falling through because there are fewer contingencies and no risk of a lender rejecting the mortgage application.

How Common Are Cash Offers in Today's Real Estate Market?

Cash offers have become increasingly common in today's real estate market. However, this trend is not necessarily due to an influx of cash buyers, but rather a decrease in mortgage-reliant buyers caused by high mortgage rates. And in some markets, an increase in cash buyers can also be a sign of increased foreign buyer activity.

In luxury real estate, cash transactions are often preferred due to the significant financial resources available to affluent buyers. Cash buyers in the luxury segment may seek to streamline the purchasing process, bypassing the potential delays associated with mortgage approval.

Miami, in particular, stands out as a top luxury market where home prices increased 6.5% last year and cash sales are prevalent. With its status as a global destination for luxury living, Miami attracts a high volume of affluent buyers, including international investors and high-net-worth individuals. The allure of Miami's luxury real estate market, coupled with its favorable tax environment and desirable lifestyle offerings, makes it a hotspot for cash transactions.

According to data from Miller Samuel, in the first quarter of 2023, 57% of Manhattan home purchases and over 44% of home purchases in Orange County were made in cash. In Miami Beach, about 66% of home purchases by foreign buyers were made in cash, marking an increase from the previous year. This trend is expected to continue as long as mortgage rates remain high, making cash offers an attractive option for both buyers and sellers seeking a quick sale.

Which Market Trends Influence the Prevalence of Cash Deals?

Several market trends influence the prevalence of cash deals, including a rise in obstacles to financing options, leading the portion of the market operating on cash offers to stand out against a recent decline in homebuyers entering into mortgages. 

Rise in Home Prices

Over the past two years, rising home prices have made cash deals more attractive. With median home prices reaching $394,300 as of September 2023, many homebuyers have struggled to account for both price and interest rate hikes when budgeting for a potential mortgage payment. 

High Competition

High competition in the real estate market, especially in South Florida, has also contributed to the popularity of cash offers. In a competitive market, both buyers and sellers often favor cash offers as they usually involve fewer contingencies and faster closing times. 

Economic Uncertainty

Economic uncertainty, particularly surrounding mortgage rates, has made cash offers more appealing. With mortgage rates remaining high, many potential buyers relying on mortgages pulled back from the market, increasing the proportion of cash buyers.

Interest Rates

Because of high interest rates, many homebuyers have elected to ride out the rate hikes, anticipating a decline in interest rates in 2024. For now, this means cash offers will take up a larger percentage of home purchases until financing conditions become more favorable. 

Increased Investment Activity

When an area is being developed quickly, investors are often in a race against the competition to secure prime real estate. Making all-cash purchases gives investors an edge in a seller’s market. Increased investment activity, particularly in hot markets like Miami Beach, has led to a surge in cash purchases.

Foreign Activity

Foreign activity in the U.S. real estate market has also boosted the prevalence of cash deals. International buyers frequently offer cash to simplify transactions and avoid the hassle of obtaining a U.S. mortgage.

An increase in foreign cash sales may edge US home buyers out of the market, a problem recently addressed by Florida Senate Bill 264. This key legislation imposes significant restrictions on the types of property that foreign citizens and entities can purchase in the State of Florida, prompting a complex ongoing dialogue about this legislation. 

How Do Financial Considerations Differ for Cash Sales?

Just as there are differences in the home buying process with cash offers versus a traditional mortgage loan, the financial considerations for each are also different. 

No Mortgage Interest

When purchasing a home with cash upfront, buyers sidestep the mortgage process entirely. Though this may involve significant saving leading up to the purchase, the result is that no interest is added to the home's purchase price. This can lead to exponential savings compared with today’s historically high mortgage rates. 

Immediate Equity

With traditional mortgage-backed home purchases, the home buyer pays a portion of the asking price of the home upfront. This down payment is considered earnest money, demonstrating the buyer’s ability to cover the remaining balance on the home. Since the remainder of the purchase price is financed by the mortgage lender, a traditional homebuyer’s equity in the home is limited to their down payment plus the portion of the mortgage that is paid off. 

Over time, a mortgage-backed buyer grows equity in their home. In contrast, a cash buyer immediately steps into full equity in their newly acquired property, allowing them to leverage assets more effectively. 

No Loan Fees

Cash offers avoid many of the peripheral expenses associated with traditional mortgages as well. Fees associated with home loans, including expenses like the lender’s appraisal and paperwork, can be avoided by paying the purchase price in full. 

Discount Potential

Cash is king. While financing through a mortgage lender is a great tool for individuals who don’t have a lot of cash on hand, home sellers in a hurry to secure their funds may be open to a lower cash offer in order to avoid a potentially lengthy underwriting process. 

Cash Flow Considerations

While these differences highlight many attractive benefits of cash sales, cash sales and traditional mortgages are tools that meet different needs despite having the same end goal. 

A young homebuyer searching for their first home will have substantially different cash flow and budgeting considerations from a real estate investor hoping to make quick renovations and sell a property with minimal hassle. 

Even though a cash offer may not be a realistic option when buying a first home, building equity and saving over time may create an opportunity to make a cash offer purchase in the future. Paying down your mortgage or refinancing at better rates can free up cash flow to pursue this goal. 

How Are Cash Offers Shaping the Future of Home Sales?

The 2023 mortgage rate hikes highlighted the expediency and surety of cash offers on homes, but with interest rates leveling off as a result of the Federal Reserve’s pause on increasing the Fed Funds rate, 2024 may bring a return to lower rates and, consequently, a rise in the percentage of home buyers utilizing mortgage loans and other financing options. 

Even so, home selling will still operate based on tried and true principles, and the cash offer will continue to occupy a valuable space when buyers and sellers seek to move a house fast. 

As we are currently in a seller’s market, with no signs that this will change, home buyers who can withdraw the full purchase price from their bank accounts will have a distinct advantage in securing the home they want in a timely manner. 

The Bottom Line

The housing market is in an uncertain place, but cash offers provide certainty and control for both buyers and sellers. While they may once again take a back seat to traditional sales in 2024 as the housing market is corrected, the features that make cash offers attractive will not substantially change, and home buyers with sufficient capital will still have access to this advantageous tool alongside other financing options. 


Mortgage Rates | Freddie Mac

In Manhattan’s Sluggish Home Market, Cash is Greasing the Wheels | Bloomberg

Buying a House With Cash vs. Getting a Mortgage | Investopedia

Foreign investment floods into Miami real estate after pandemic dip | Axios

Housing market predictions for 2024 | Bankrate

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