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10 best cities to buy short sale homes

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Hiker Amy Orcutt looks out over the skyline of downtown Phoenix from a rugged outcrop of Camelback. The Phoenix metropolitan area sold more than 7,000 pre-foreclosure homes in the fourth quarter of 2011 – one of the highest totals in the US.

Robert Harbison/The Christian Science Monitor/File

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9. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (24.7 percent)

Phoenix is the sixth-most populous city in the United States. Known as the Valley of the Sun, the Phoenix metropolitan area had the second-highest number of pre-foreclosure home sales on the list, with 7,112 (up 43 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010). Short sales made up 20.3 percent of all homes sold in the area, at an average price of $122,212. As a state, Arizona saw one of the largest year-over-year increases in pre-foreclosure sales, up 48 percent.

Though a great deal for the buyer, short sales aren't as heavily discounted as homes that have gone into foreclosure. But you tend to get what you pay for. 

"The condition on foreclosed homes tend to be not as good, because they'll often sit vacant for several months," notes Mr. Blumquist. "It's possible that some of those foreclosed propertied were listed for sale earlier and no one bought them, so those just aren't as desireable as homes that go in short sales."

Plus, he adds, "the owner is still living in the property when it sells as a short sale, so it's better maintained."

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