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The Associated Press August 25, 2011, 10:57AM ET

Foreclosure sales take steep discount in Louisiana

A national tracking firm says second-quarter sales of Louisiana homes in some stage of foreclosure went for about a third less than homes not in trouble.

Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac said 930 foreclosed homes were sold in the state in the April-through-June period at an average price of $121,506. That represented a 34.1 percent discount from homes that were not in foreclosure and 14.8 percent of all second-quarter home sales in Louisiana.

The number of foreclosed home sales rose 13.6 percent from the first quarter of 2011 in Louisiana, but fell 3.9 percent from the second quarter of 2010.

Nationally, the second quarter saw 265,087 foreclosure sales at an average price of $164,217. That represented 32 percent discount and accounted for 31 percent of all U.S. home sales.

On Wednesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said home second-quarter home prices were down 5.9 percent from the second quarter of 2010.

Derenda Grubb, president of the Louisiana Realtors Association, said home sale strength in Louisiana varied from region to region, largely depending upon the job picture. Grubb said foreclosures were mostly affecting the sale price of nearby comparable homes -- and often making accurate appraisals of a non-foreclosed home's value difficult.

Baton Rouge recorded a 17.2 percent drop in the number of home sales over the first six months of 2011, compared with the first half of 2010, she said. At the same time, sales in Houma-Thibodaux surged 26.8 percent for the first six months.

New Orleans was down 7.9 percent, Shreveport-Bossier City was down 8.4 percent, Monroe was down 3.3 percent, Alexandria fell 13.7 percent and Lake Charles gained 7.7 percent, she said.

"It's going to depend upon the job market," Grubb said.

RealtyTrac chief executive James Saccacio said that with prices going down and discounts going up, buyers and investors wanting bargain real estate are in a good position for potential long-term gains and short-term rental income.

At the same time, he said there was increasing evidence of "short selling" to third parties by many homeowners not yet in formal foreclosure. Those homeowners either do not qualify for loan modification and refinancing and want to sell to avoid foreclosure.

Saccacio said those sales enable lenders to eliminate more non-performing loans from their portfolios, cut their losses and reduce the number of distressed homes driving down prices.

In Nevada, foreclosure sales accounted for 65 percent of all home sales in the second-quarter. That was followed by Arizona with 57 percent, 51 percent in California, Michigan with 41 percent and Georgia with 38 percent.

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