Bank-owned properties sold for an average 34% discount in the first quarter, up from 32% both in the previous quarter and a year earlier, RealtyTrac Inc. said in a report Wednesday.

Such properties accounted for 19% of all U.S. home sales, up from almost 16% in the fourth quarter and down from 21% in the first quarter of 2009, RealtyTrac data show.

Properties in default or scheduled for auction sold for an average discount of almost 15%, up from almost 14% in the previous quarter and down from 16% a year earlier. These homes are often sold in short sales, where lenders accept less than the outstanding loan amount for the property, RealtyTrac said.

Properties in default or headed for auction accounted for 12% of all sales.

The average price was $154,740 for bank-owned properties and $199,950 for homes in default or scheduled for auction.

"The competing forces will be bank-owned properties and short sales," Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac's senior vice president for marketing, said in an interview. "The more short sales, the lower the average discount is likely to be."

Overall, homes in the foreclosure process sold at an average 27% discount in the first quarter.

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