Foreclosure sales are down

Resales of foreclosed homes accounted for just 10.7 percent of last month’s transactions, compared with nearly half at the height of the real estate sales slump in January 2009. A year ago, previously foreclosed homes accounted for nearly a fourth of sales. Lenders also are seizing dramatically fewer homes.

Foreclosures fell last month to 271 units, below 300 a month for the first time since May 2007. Foreclosures are down 81 percent since they peaked at 1,441 in August 2008. Default notices, which initiate the foreclosure process, fell to 688, down 72 percent from the June 2008 peak of nearly 2,500.

That means fewer homes enter the foreclosure pipeline as lenders divert distressed properties into loan modifications or sales “short” of the amount needed to pay off the mortgage.

Since the bulk of foreclosures involved lower-priced houses and condos, condo prices soared 20.6 percent to $307,500 in November, DataQuick figures show. That’s up $52,500 from a year ago.

At the same time, more higher-priced homes are starting to sell, changing the mix of properties changing hands and boosting the median price.

DataQuick figures show, for example, that 38.8 percent of homes sold for $400,000 or less last month – compared with 49 percent in November 2011. And 31.8 percent sold for $600,000 and above – up from 23.3 percent a year earlier.

Orange County had 3,482 homes for sale as of Dec. 6 – the lowest number in records dating back to mid-2004.

DataQuick said “extraordinarily low” mortgage rates are just one factor fueling buyer demand. Investor activity and all-cash buying remained near record-high levels.

“More buyers feel confident about their jobs, the economy, and the likelihood housing prices have bottomed and are likely to rise,” said DataQuick President John Walsh.

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