CENTRAL FLORIDA - As central Florida's housing market slowly continues to get stronger, realtors said a flood of cash deals is fueling the recovery.
When an Apopka house sold last December, the seller had few fears the financing would fall through, because buyer Rob Arnold offered $62,500 in cash.
Florida realtor figures show 51 percent of single-family home sales are all cash.
"What we're seeing is a lot of the lower-end price tiers are really being gobbled up right now," said economist Brad O'Connor with Florida Realtors.
Brokers such as Arnold like the negotiating power of cash because they can get a good price and move fast.
"Somebody like me, I buy 'em and resell 'em. At some point, I buy 'em. Once they're sold, I can buy some more," Arnold said.
Other cash buyers are grabbing up property and renting it, taking advantage of central Florida's hot rental market. Economists say that represents a risk: What happens when the buyers decide to sell?
"When their time horizon is up, we need to see this credit situation gone, otherwise we're going to have some trouble in this market," O'Connor said.
In the meantime, all the cash is helping to drive up prices and home values. The more healthy the market is, the less risk for lenders to give traditional buyers a chance to do some buying of their own.
Realtors said many cash buyers come from outside the United States, with a large number of all-cash deals in central Florida involving buyers from Brazil and Canada.