Skip to content

Cash buyers rule Richmond real estate market

on September 24, 2013

David Gesinger wants to live in Richmond, but for now he’s stuck renting a one-bedroom apartment with his eight-year-old daughter in nearby El Cerrito, about two blocks from the Richmond border. For the past year, Gesinger, 44, has been trying to buy a house, but all-cash buyers have outbid him every time.

The Richmond real estate market, like the rest of the state, is on the rebound. And some of that recovery is thanks to investors who are able to buy homes without taking out a loan. That’s great news for both sellers and real estate agents, but it leaves limited selection for buyers who don’t have access to a lot of cash.

Gesinger says he has offered to pay as much as 110 percent of a home’s appraised value, and still he has been turned down. “The feedback I’ve gotten from all of my bids is: ‘A cash offer was accepted; your offer was not,'” he says.

“If there are five people bidding, it’s the one that bids with cash that gets put to the top of the list,” Gesinger says.

In July, 43 percent of the homes sold in Richmond were purchased with cash, according to data obtained by RealtyTrac. The phenomenon isn’t limited to Richmond; other parts of the Bay Area have seen a rise in all-cash sales, as well. But for the past two years, the percentage of cash sales in Richmond has exceeded state and national averages.

Real estate values have risen in Richmond since the mortgage crisis, but investors believe that houses in the city are still undervalued, according to East Bay Realtor Geoffrey Craighead. “Investors are anticipating a tremendous amount of appreciation, a bunch of which they’ve already seen.”

Part of cash’s appeal to sellers is that the transaction can be completed quickly: Cash closings take just 15 days, whereas conventional loans often take more than a month to close. And as Gesinger, a military veteran, has learned, loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs tend to take even longer.

Real estate agents receive their commissions only once the closing is completed, so they have an added incentive to expedite the process. “If I’m looking for a payday, I don’t get paid until it closes escrow,” says Craighead, explaining the prevailing mentality of listing agents. “A lot can happen in that 45 to 60 days, so cash looks all that much more intriguing.”

Gesinger worries that the increase in investor activity could change the character of neighborhoods, as absentee landlords replace homeowners. From 2007 to 2011, more than 60 percent of Richmond homes were owner-occupied, according to the US Census Bureau. But that percentage could shrink if investors continue to purchase homes and convert them into rentals.


  1. Bellevue Towers on September 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Multiple offers every where. Been seeing more cash offer with waving the inspection.

  2. Richmond Pulse on September 24, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    this is a problem

  3. Jeanne Kortz on September 25, 2013 at 8:57 am

    It’s also a problem because it means that most of these cash buyers plan to rent the homes/condos they purchase. We are becoming a nation of renters as those who want to buy a home to live in get pushed out by greedy investors who see these homes as more income for their coffers. The other thing these cash buyers are doing is waiting for the values to increase further and then “flip” their properties.

  4. judith on September 25, 2013 at 9:19 am

    When I get ready to sell my house in Richmond I will sell it to a young family who plan to stay and invest in the city. I think I can wait a couple of more weeks or so to get paid, it is so much more worth it ethically. In my neighborhood I see so many renters who don’t seem to care about the property and it breaks my heart because I love Richmond. I would like to see councilmen Booze and Bates gone though, I think they are ringing our community down. Please watch the council meeting on KCRT that took place on Sept. 10th to hear their racial comments!!!

Richmond Confidential welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Richmond Confidential assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Card image cap
Richmond Confidential

Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

Please send news tips to

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top