Home sales in U.S. metropolitan areas are up sharply compared to a year ago, Radar Logic reported on Wednesday.

Improved home affordability and low mortgage rates contributed to a 7% annual gain in home sales in the 25 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)tracked by Radar Logic's RPX housing report.

The report said 14 of the 25 MSAs saw transactions increase, with the largest gain taking place in areas with a higher percentage of foreclosed homes, such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and California.

Sales of foreclosed homes by banks, along with sales to third parties at foreclosure auctions, rose a whopping 177% in December compared to a year ago. All other sales decreased by 17%, the report said.

"As foreclosures increase and sales outside of foreclosure decline, motivated sales are starting to represent a significant percentage of the transactions we observe in several of the MSAs we track, particularly in the West," Radar Logic President Michael Feder said in a release. "As motivated sales increase, the prices they receive will likely become more the norm than the exception."

Price discounts on foreclosure-related sales range from 20% to more than 50%, Radar Logic noted.

By Stephen Huebl and edited by Sarah Sussman
©CEP News Ltd. 2009