Short sales increased by 4 percent last year over 2011 and accounted for about 22 percent of total U.S. sales, according to California-based RealtyTrac Inc., a foreclosure listing firm.
Locally, the short-sale option used by sellers to avoid foreclosure — meaning the bank agrees to accept significantly less than what is actually still owed — grew by more than that last year in many areas.
Lebanon County saw a 113 percent increase over 2011, and nonforeclosure short sales made up about 22 percent of total sales, according to RealtyTrac.
The York-Hanover metropolitan area posted just a 2 percent growth rate in short sales last year. However, they accounted for a quarter of all sales in 2012 — the highest in the midstate.
In Harrisburg-Carlisle and Lancaster County, short sales made up 22 percent of total sales, according to RealtyTrac. Lancaster saw a 25 percent increase over 2011, while Harrisburg-Carlisle short sales jumped by 17 percent.
Best places to buy
Analyzing fourth-quarter foreclosure and short-sale data in more than 900 metro areas nationwide, RealtyTrac compiled a list of the top 15 markets for buying bank-owned homes and short sales in 2013.
Santa Barbara, Calif., topped the short-sale list. It saw a 52 percent annual increase in 2012 and the average amount short — the difference between the sales price and the loan amount owed to the bank — was $178,201.
The average amount short was more than $100,000 in seven of the top 15 markets, according to RealtyTrac. Most of the top 15 markets are in California.
On buying bank-owned properties, the top spot went to Cleveland, Ohio, where bank-owned sales were up 141 percent last year. The average bank-owned sales price was $57,782, or a 56 percent discount off nondistressed sales.
RealtyTrac limited its top 15 lists to markets with at least 200 short sales and bank-owned sales in the fourth quarter. Bank-owned sales needed to account for at least 10 percent of all residential sales, and the average sales price was at least 30 percent below the average price of a nondistressed home, according to RealtyTrac.