Seller Profits Hit New High Amid Struggling Economy

July 24, 2020

While unemployment remains high and the economy continues to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing market is proving resilient. During the second quarter of this year, home sellers netted a median $75,971 profit at resale, up from $66,500 in the first quarter and $65,250 a year earlier, according to research firm ATTOM Data Solutions. The second-quarter figure represents a 36.3% return on investment—the highest level since the Great Recession—and is up from 34.5% in the first quarter and 33.7% a year prior, ATTOM Data Solutions reports.

“The housing market across the United States pulled something of a high-wire act in the second quarter, surging forward despite the encroaching economic headwinds resulting from the coronavirus pandemic,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Profit margins hit new records as prices kept climbing, with few indications that the impact of the virus would topple the market.”

Teta adds that high home prices in February and March before the pandemic likely fueled the profit margins in the second quarter. However, new warning signs have emerged since then, Teta says. “There have been significant signs of prices flattening out or dropping across significant parts of the country, and the economic toll from the virus continues to be a major issue,” he says.

Profit margins—the percentage change between median purchase and resale prices—increased in 104 of the country's metros that ATTOM Data Solutions tracks. The largest increases in the second quarter occurred in:

  1. Spokane, Wash. (76%)
  2. Columbus, Ohio (47%)
  3. St. Louis (31.4%)
  4. Chattanooga, Tenn. (43.4%)
  5. Indianapolis (41.9%)