The 7,360 home sales in the Phoenix area was a 17.2% drop from a year ago, the fifth-straight month of yearly declines, according to real estate data provider MDA DataQuick. From the month before, home sales did increase 3.5% driven mostly by historically low mortgage rates, increased demand from investors and late-closing summer deals. But of those sales, 53.2% were on foreclosed properties, up from 49.7% in August but down from 56.5% a year ago. Foreclosures’ share of the market peaked in March 2009 at 66.2%. An average September in Phoenix nets 9,411 home sales, 21.8% more than the latest total. Those who did buy a home paid a median $130,000 in September, the same as the previous month but down 5.1% from a year ago and 50.8% below the $264,100 peak in June 2006. First-time homebuyers took up 41.9% of the market in September, down from 43.6% a year ago but up from 38.3% in August. Lenders foreclosed on 5,627 Phoenix-are homes, up 35% from a year ago. In the first nine months of 2010, lenders foreclosed on 47,818 homes, up 12% from the same period a year ago. Write to Jon Prior.

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