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Foreclosed home prices significantly lower than non-foreclosed prices

One in four homes sold in January were in foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac.

One in four homes sold in January were in foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac.

Nearly one in four homes sold in the fourth quarter of last year were in some stage of foreclosure, lowering sale prices dramatically, according to a new market analysis from RealtyTrac.

The average sales price of a house in foreclosure during the last part of 2011 was $164,944 - a full 29 percent lower than the average cost of a non-foreclosure home, according to RealtyTrac. The significant price difference lowers the relocation cost for a family moving into a foreclosed home. Overall, sales of homes in foreclosure were up 4 percent from the third quarter of 2011, but down 2 percent from the same time in 2010.

"We expect to see foreclosure-related sales increase in 2012, particularly pre-foreclosure sales, as lenders start to more aggressively dispose of distressed assets held up by the mortgage servicing gridlock over the past 18 months," said Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac.

Families moving out of state might consider Nevada or California, the two areas with the highest percentage of foreclosure sales at the end of last year. In Nevada, 56 percent of all fourth-quarter home sales were in foreclosure, while in California, the percentage was 43.

Despite high foreclosure rates across the country, the U.S. housing market is showing signs of recovery. According to the National Association of Realtors pending home sales index, contracts on new homes rose 2 percent in January, continuing an upward trend.