More than a quarter -- 27.3 percent -- of all home sales in the Twin Cities during the first quarter were properties at some stage of foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac. That was down slighly from the previous quarter, but up 23 percent from the first quarter 2011. Nationwide foreclosure sales represented 26 percent of all sales, up more than 20 percent from both the previous quarter and last year. 

RealtyTrac's CEO, Brandon Moore, attributed the increase to attempts by lenders to reduce the bottleneck of listings that are still in the inventory.

Despite those increases, one of the most notable trends in the report was a substantial increase in the number pre-foreclosure sales, aka short sales. Those are on the rise because lenders are trying to avoid the high cost - and difficulty - of processing a foreclosure. Short sales tend to take several months, but are generally less expensive for the lender and don't receive the kind of legal scrutiny that lenders face when executing a foreclosure. In the Twin Cities metro, for example, property listings that are potential short sales now outnumber the number of bank-owned listings on the market. 

Despite that shift, the Twin Cities posted the highest annual increase in the number of bank-owned sales, they increased 33 percent. The average discount on those sales was 28.8 percent while the average short sale discount was just 12.28 percent for a combined discount of 22.43 percent. Here's a link to the full report. 

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