The November residential and foreclosure sales report from RealtyTrac shows that sales of homes, condominiums and townhomes saw a slight uptick between October and November 2013 – up less than 1% to 5,146,565.

More positively, that’s a 10% increase for sales over November 2012.

According to RealtyTrac’s numbers, annualized sales declined from October to November 2013 in 18 states, and were down from a year ago in four states.

"The housing market recovery continued to be driven by investors and other cash purchasers in November," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "Lenders are taking advantage of this environment to unload more of their bank-owned inventory and in-foreclosure inventory at the foreclosure auction."

"But as the backlog of distressed inventory available dries up in many of the markets with the most efficient foreclosure processes — namely California, Arizona and Nevada, with Georgia not far behind — overall sales volume is declining and will continue to do so until more non-distressed sellers enter the market," he said.

Median sales prices mirrored the percentage gains in sales. The median sales price of all residential properties (this includes both standard and distressed properties) was $169,000 in November, up 1% from October and up 7% from November 2012. That makes 19 consecutive months of median home price increases on an annualized basis.

Interestingly, a lot of the sales were driven by investors and other cash purchasers, as was the case over the past several months. All-cash purchases accounted for 42.0% of all residential property sales in November, up from 38.8% in October and also up from a year ago to the highest level since RealtyTrac began tracking all-cash purchases in January 2011.

States with the highest percentage of cash sales were Florida (62.7%), Georgia (51.3%), Nevada (51.0%), South Carolina (50.3%), and Michigan (49.0%).

“Currently about 85% of the Reno housing market has returned back to equity sales," said Craig King, COO of Chase International, which covers Reno, Nev., and Lake Tahoe markets.  "We have experienced this trend for most of 2013 as home sales appear to be taking on the first in, first out dynamic."

Sales declined most in the following states: California (down 14%), Arizona (down 12%), Nevada (down 9%), and Rhode Island (down 4%). Annualized sales volume declined from a year ago in 14 of the nation’s 50 largest metros.

Other significant finds centered around investor buyers and foreclosure auctions:

  • Institutional investor purchases represented 7.7% of all residential property sales in November, up from 7.1% in October and up from 6.3% a year ago.
  • Markets with the highest share of institutional investor purchases included Columbus, Ohio, Phoenix, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Fla., and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Sales of bank-owned homes (REO) accounted for 10.0% of all residential property sales in November, up from 9.1% in October and 9.4% a year ago. November marked the third consecutive month where REO sales increased from the previous month.
  • Metro areas where REO sales accounted for at least 20% of all sales and increased from a year ago included Stockton, Calif., Las Vegas, Cleveland, Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif., and Phoenix.
  • Sales to third-party investors at the foreclosure auction represented 1.3% of all residential property sales in November, up from 0.8% of sales in both the previous month and a year ago to the highest level since RealtyTrac began tracking third party foreclosure auction sales in January 2011.
  • Metro areas with the highest share of third party foreclosure auction sales were Miami (4.0%), Atlanta (3.9%), Jacksonville, Fla. (3.9%), Orlando (3.6%), and Las Vegas (3.6%).

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