The dollar amount of outstanding residential loans in the U.S. continued to fall in the third quarter, as more homeowners engaged in "cash-in" refinancings while others lost their homes to foreclosure.

Information compiled by National Mortgage News and the Quarterly Data Report said that Americans owed $9.807 trillion on their home loans at Sept. 30, down from $9.894 trillion at midyear.

Housing debt peaked at $10.138 trillion at the end of 2009, according to National Mortgage News/Quarterly Data Report.

Some housing analysts said they anticipate that another 11 million homes could be lost to foreclosure during the next few years unless the government improves its loan modification efforts.

The dollar amount of outstanding loans is shrinking because people who can afford to are refinancing and paying down balances.

Also, mortgagors are defaulting on loans and entering foreclosure, taking those credits out of the equation.

Meanwhile, certain real estate investors are buying homes for cash, shunning mortgages entirely.

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