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RealtyTrac reports nearly one-third of home sales are distressed

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Sales of bank-owned homes and properties in some stage of foreclosure accounted for 28% of all U.S. residential sales in quarter one, up from 27% in the fourth quarter, RealtyTrac said Thursday in its 1Q 2011 survey. The foreclosure data firm added that the average sales price of properties in foreclosure fell 1.89%, hitting $168,321 during the same period. The average sales price for properties in foreclosure also fell approximately 27% below prime properties, the report said. During the quarter, third-parties acquired 158,434 U.S. bank-owned homes and properties in some stage of the foreclosure process, down 16% from the revised fourth-quarter figures and 36% from year-ago levels. "While foreclosure sales continue to account for an unusually high percentage of all residential home sales, sales volume is well off the peak we saw in the first quarter of 2009, when nearly 350,000 foreclosure properties sold to third parties," said James Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. "While this is probably helping to keep home prices relatively stable, it is also delaying the housing recovery. At the first quarter foreclosure sales pace, it would take exactly three years to clear the current inventory of 1.9 million properties already on the banks’ books, or in foreclosure." According to the report, a total of 107,143 real estate owned residential properties sold to third parties in the first quarter, down 11% from the previous quarter and down nearly 30% from the first quarter of 2010. REO sales accounted for nearly 19% of all sales in the first quarter, up from 17% of all sales in the previous quarter and up from 18% of all sales in the first quarter of 2010. REOs sold for a relatively-unchanged average discount of 35%. A total of 51,291 pre-foreclosure properties sold to third parties in the first quarter, down nearly 26% from the previous quarter and down 45% from the first quarter of 2010. Pre-foreclosure sales accounted for nearly 9% of all sales, down from 10% of all sales in the fourth quarter of 2010 and down from 11% of all sales in the first quarter of 2010. Short sales sold for an average discount of 9%, down from an average discount of 13% in the fourth quarter and an average discount of 14% in the first quarter of 2010. Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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