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US Foreclosure Sales Pick Up in Third Quarter

More U.S. homes in foreclosure were sold in the third quarter as lenders dealt with distressed properties at an earlier stage of the process, data from RealtyTrac showed on Thursday.

A total of 193,059 homes in some stage of foreclosure were sold in the third quarter, up 21 percent from the previous quarter. That was down 3 percent from a year ago.

So-called pre-foreclosure sales outstripped sales of homes already seized by lenders. Known as short sales,pre-foreclosure transactions occur when the homeowner is in default but the property has not yet been taken back by the bank.

A short sale lets the home owner sell the home for less than what is owed on the mortgage, avoiding a potentially drawn-out foreclosure battle.

Pre-foreclosure sales rose 22 percent to 98,125. At the same time, bank-owned home sales rose 19 percent to 94,934.

Short sales will likely exceed sales of bank-owned properties for the whole year as well, said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.

"It fits with the mood of the market right now," Blomquist said. "When we talk to real estate agents, they want more inventory."

All foreclosure-related sales accounted for 19 percent of home sales, down from 20 percent in the previous quarter and the same level as a year ago.

While distressed properties are sold at a significant discount, short sales command a slightly stronger price.The average price of a short sale was $191,025, while seized homes sold for $161,954.

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