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Foreclosures Jump as Banks Bet on Rising Prices

San Francisco — Home repossessions jumped 11 percent in May after declining for the previous five months as rising prices and limited inventory for sale across the country spurred banks to complete foreclosures.

Lenders took back 38,946 homes, up from 34,997 in April, according to Irvine, Calif.-based data firm RealtyTrac, which tracks notices of default, auction and seizures. Thirty-three states had increases in the number of homes repossessed, RealtyTrac said in a report last week.

Banks are more willing to move to the final stage of foreclosure because there is sufficient demand and prices are improving, said Eric Workman of Tinley Park, Ill.-based Mack Cos., which aggregates single-family rental homes and resells them to individuals and institutional investors. U.S. home prices advanced almost 11 percent in the year through March, the biggest 12-month gain since April 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of values in 20 cities.

Private-equity firms, hedge funds and individuals are all buying foreclosed or distressed homes to turn into rental properties as prices remain 28 percent below their 2006 peak.