Home flippers in the Sarasota-Manatee area closed fewer deals and pocketed smaller profits during the third quarter.

In the two-county region, 5.7 percent of home and condo sales during the July-September period were considered flips — an arms-length sale for the second time within a 12-month period — real estate researcher ATTOM Data Solutions reported Wednesday.

Those 278 sales were down by 16 percent over the year.

And flippers made less money on their deals. The median gross profit on a third-quarter flip was $58,025, off from $70,050 a year ago.

Flips and gross profits were down in Florida and across the U.S., the report said.

“Home flipping profits continue to be squeezed by a dwindling inventory of distressed properties available to purchase at a discount and increasing competition from fair-weather home flippers often willing to operate on thinner margins,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM. “A more than nine-year low in the ratio of flips per investor is evidence of this increased competition, which is pushing many investors to new metro areas that often have weaker market fundamentals but also come with a bigger supply of discounted distressed properties to flip.”

Sarasota-Manatee was once one of the nation's hot spots for flipping, peaking with 1,350 such transactions in second-quarter 2005 during the real estate run up.

But the region now ranks 46th among the 93 major U.S. metro areas studied in the report, well off its 9th-place ranking just two years ago.

Cash buyers, long a dominant force in the region's real estate market, still play a key role. Nearly 75 percent of the homes flipped in Sarasota-Manatee were purchased without financing, about the same as last year. Nationally, 65 percent of flippers bought with cash.

Local investors averaged a 38.7 percent gross return on investment — which does not include rehab costs and other expenses — on their flips, compared with 56.1 percent last year. Nationwide, the gross ROI eased from 48.7 percent to 47.7 percent, the lowest in more than two years.

Flipped homes and condos here sold for a median $208,025 in the quarter, up from $195,000 a year ago.

Flips are taking an average 205 days to sell, the same as in 2016.

Florida ranked sixth in the nation, with 6.6 percent of residential sales considered flips, which was down by 15 percent.

Nationwide, flipping accounted for 5.1 percent of all sales, the same as last year.