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.
While the number of bank-owned properties sold declined, they grew as a share of all home sales. Bank-owned homes accounted for nearly 19 percent of all sales, up from 17 percent in the fourth quarter and up from 18 percent a year ago, the firm said.
RealtyTrac estimates there are 872,000 homes that have been repossessed by lenders, but have yet to be sold. At the first-quarter's sales pace, it will take three years to clear the inventory of 1.9 million properties already in some stage of foreclosure
For bank-owned properties alone, that amounts to a 2-year supply.