Short sales and distressed sales — in foreclosure or bank-owned — accounted for 12.7% of all sales in the third quarter, down from 14.2% in the previous quarter and down from 14.5% in the third quarter of 2013, according to RealtyTrac, a housing data-tracking company.

The total is the lowest level since RealtyTrac began tracking short sales and distressed sales combined in the first quarter of 2011.

Short sales nationwide accounted for 3.8% of all sales in the third quarter, down from 4.2% of all sales in the second quarter and down from 4.7% of all sales in the third quarter of 2013 to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2011.

Sales of bank-owned properties nationwide accounted for 7.8% of all sales in the third quarter, down from 8.8% of all sales in the previous quarter and down from 9.0% of all sales in the third quarter of 2013 to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2011.   

Sales at the public foreclosure auction accounted for 1.1% of all sales nationwide in the third quarter, down from 1.2% in the previous quarter but up from 0.9% in the third quarter of 2013.

Metro areas with the highest share of combined short sales and distressed sales included: Las Vegas (34.9%), Stockton, Calif., (31.8%), Modesto, Calif., (31.2%), Lakeland, Fla., (26.1%), and Jacksonville, Fla., (26.1%).

Overall, U.S. residential properties - including single-family homes, condominiums and townhouses - sold at an estimated annual pace of 4.4 million in September. The number is down 1% from August and down 19% from a year ago, according to RealtyTrac.
 
The median sales price of U.S. residential properties — including both distressed and non-distressed sales — was $195,000 in September, up less than 1% from August and up 15% from September 2013.
September marked the 30th consecutive month where U.S. median home prices increased on an annual basis, and the 15% annual increase is the biggest annual percentage jump since October 2005.

"Median home prices nationally in September were boosted by a new low in the share of distressed sales during the third quarter, resulting in fewer home sales on the lower end," said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. "The share of homes selling above $200,000 is up 7% from a year ago, and the share of homes selling above $500,000 is up 15% from a year ago.

"Some of the biggest increases in median prices are in markets in the Midwest, Southeast and Inland California, where home prices are still considered a relative bargain for both investors and owner-occupant buyers," Blomquist added. "Meanwhile, many of the fastest-appreciating real estate markets last year have now settled into a more sustainable pattern of single-digit appreciation."

Median home prices increased less than 10% from a year ago in 59 of the 102 metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 500,000 or more tracked in the report.

Major metros with single-digit appreciation included Los Angeles (9% increase), where annual home price appreciation has been in single digits for four consecutive months; Phoenix (6% increase), where annual home price appreciation has been in single digits for six consecutive months; San Diego (7% increase), where annual home price appreciation has been in single digits for four consecutive months; Denver (6% increase), where annual home price appreciation has been in single digits for nine consecutive months; and Portland, Ore. (7% increase), where annual home price appreciation has been in single digits for five consecutive months.

"We are experiencing the normal seasonal slowdown, but the market is still very strong in Northern Colorado," said Doug Dodds with RE/MAX Alliance, covering the Denver market. "Our feeling is that prices will not deflate but rather level off at least until spring."

Markets with the biggest annual increases in median home prices in September included Detroit (35% increase), Austin, Texas (28% increase), Cincinnati (27% increase), Cleveland (25% increase), Stockton, Calif., (21% increase), Miami (18% increase) and Charlotte (15% increase).

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