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Five-month supply of distressed homes casts shadow on market

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A “shadow” supply of 1.6 million homes facing foreclosure or already owned by banks is estimated to hang over the U.S real estate market -- these are properties that typically go uncounted by most real estate listing services.

The estimate represents about five months of supply as of October 2011, and was published Wednesday by the Santa Ana real estate data firm CoreLogic. This compares with a shadow supply of about 1.9 million units in October 2010, representing about seven months’ supply then.

Florida, California and Illinois account for more than one-third of these properties, which can stand in the way of a housing recovery as most will end up as either foreclosures or so-called short sales, where a bank allows a home to be sold for less than the debt on the property.

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