LOS ANGELES — The number of U.S. homes purchased via short sale hit a three year-high in the first quarter of the year, up 25 percent from a year earlier, according to a report on foreclosure-related sales.
Owners unloaded 109,521 homes during the first three months of the year for less than what they owed on the mortgage, according to Irvine, Calif.-based data tracker RealtyTrac. Such transactions help homeowners avoid having their properties repossessed by lenders, which must approve the sales.
Short sales made up 12 percent of all residential sales during the quarter, fetching an average price of $175,461, a record low.
“Financial institutions are aggressively seeking to move through their inventories of homes in default or scheduled for auction,” said Stuart A. Gabriel, director of the Ziman Center for Real Estate at the University of California-Los Angeles.
“This is a positive sign in the sense that clearing out this shadow inventory is a precondition for the full healing of the housing sector.”