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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Data: ATTOM Data Solutions; Chart: Axios Visuals

People who sold a median-priced home or condo last year made a typical profit of $68,843, the highest figure since at least 2005, according to real estate data provider ATTOM Data Solutions.

Why it matters: While homeownership is still elusive for Americans on bottom income rungs, it's proving to be a slot machine jackpot for the "haves," whose properties have grown more attractive thanks to pandemic lifestyle changes.

Driving the news: An ATTOM report released today found that profits for home sellers shot up last year in more than 90% of U.S. housing markets — and the median home price increased 12.8% to an all-time high of $266,250.

  • The big cities with the loftiest price hikes were Milwaukee (up 15.3%), Memphis (15.1%), Phoenix (14.9%), Birmingham, Ala. (13.7%) and Seattle (12.9%).
  • Home prices reached new peaks in 97% of the metro areas ATTOM analyzed, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Houston.
  • The places with the smallest price gains were Worcester, Mass. (up 1.9%), Harrisburg, Pa. (2%), Pittsburgh (3.3%) and Boston (3.5%).

"In the annals of history, there will be few years recorded as better for sellers and more challenging for buyers,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM.

Where it stands: While it's well known that the pandemic whipped the housing market into a frenzy — with rampant bidding wars and not enough inventory — what we didn't know was just how lucrative things were for sellers.

  • Profits for them were the highest since at least 2005, when ATTOM started keeping records.
  • The gain on a typical sale was $68,843, up from $53,700 in 2019 and $48,500 in 2018.
  • This gain represented a 34.7% return on investment compared with the original purchase price — up from 29.4% in 2019 and 27.2% in 2018.

Details: Homeownership tenure also hit a national record, with people who sold their homes in the fourth quarter of 2020 having owned their property an average of 8.33 years, up from 7.98 years in the previous quarter and 7.96 years in the fourth quarter of 2019.

  • Cash sales were down. All-cash purchases represented 23.5% of single-family home and condo sales in 2020, ATTOM said — the lowest level since 2007.
  • Distressed sales hit a 15-year low. Foreclosures and bank-owned sales represented 7.8% of the market — less than a quarter of the 2011 peak.

Of note: The National Association of Realtors reported similar trends last week, saying that existing-home sales reached 5.64 million in 2020, up 5.6% from 2019 "and the most since before the Great Recession."

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

Apple raked in $111 billion in revenue in a single quarter

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Big Tech had a strong start to earnings season, as the S&P 500's heavy hitters reported Wednesday after market close.

What happened: Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple had its strongest quarter ever, raking in $111.4 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, far outpacing expectations.

Big Tech's reputation takes a pandemic plunge

Expand chart
Data: Harris Poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Americans have fallen further out of love with Big Tech, the latest Axios/Harris 100 brand reputation poll shows.

Why it matters: Even though Americans were hyper-connected to their devices throughout the pandemic, their relationship with many of the world's biggest tech firms has continued on a downward trend, suggesting that people see their products as necessary evils.

There's an ETF for everything, except bitcoin

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Happiness. Weed. Robots. Water. Whatever the theme, there's probably an ETF promoting a basket of stocks related to it.

Why it matters: Thematic ETFs are an investment mania side effect. There's newfound retail investor interest in narrow exposure to hot corners of the stock market. More are launching to meet the moment.

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