Foreclosure sales slow, but remain very high

Sales of homes in some stage of foreclosure declined in the first three months of the year, but they still accounted for 28 percent of all home sales — a share nearly six times higher than what it would be in a healthy housing market.

Foreclosure sales, which include homes purchased after they received a notice of default or were repossessed by lenders, hit the highest share of overall sales in a year during the first quarter, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

“It’s an astronomically high number,” said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “In a normal market, you’re looking at the percentage of homes sold in foreclosure to be below 5 percent.”

The pace at which homes are entering the foreclosure process has slowed in recent months amid bank and court delays. But distressed properties remain a fixture of a housing market still searching for a sustained recovery. The properties, often in need of repair, typically sell at a discount, weakening prices for other types of homes.

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