Institutional investors accounted for 14 percent of all home sales in the U.S. in September, up from 9 percent in August, according to new data from RealtyTrac.
The volume of institutional investor sales hit the highest level since January 2011, the firm reports. Institutional buyers - buyers who bought 10 or more properties in the last 12 months - accounted for 9 percent of sales a year earlier.
"While the institutional investors are pulling back their purchases in many of the higher-priced markets -- places like San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York, Seattle and Sacramento -- they are continuing to ramp up purchases in markets where median prices are still below $200,000 -- places like Jacksonville, Atlanta, Charlotte, St. Louis and Dallas," Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac, said in the report.
Markets like Las Vegas, with higher availability of distressed homes, are attracting more institutional investors, creating a rebound in foreclosure activity, RealtyTrac reports.
Distressed sales made up 25 percent of all sales in September, up from 18 percent last year.
All-cash purchases across the country represented 49 percent of sales in September, reaching its highest level since March 2012. That compares to 40 percent in August and up 10 percent from last year.
Overall the number of residential properties sold -- single-family homes, condominiums and townhomes -- was two percent higher in September compared to August and 14 percent higher than last year, according to RealtyTrac.
The national median home sales price for both distressed and non-distressed homes was $174,000 in September, increasing 1 percent from August and 6 percent from last year.
For foreclosure or bank-owned properties, the median sales price was $112,000 in September.
More from the report:
Among metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, those with the highest percentage of all-cash sales were Miami (69 percent), Tampa, Fla. (62 percent), Jacksonville, Fla. (62 percent), Las Vegas (62 percent), Orlando, Fla., (59 percent), Atlanta (54 percent), Cleveland (51 percent), and Memphis, Tenn. (51 percent).
Short sales accounted for 15 percent of all U.S. residential sales in September, up from 14 percent in August and 9 percent in September 2012. States with the biggest percentage of short sales were Nevada (32 percent), Florida (30 percent), Ohio (26 percent), Maryland (22 percent), and Tennessee (21 percent).
Among metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, those with the highest percentage of short sales were Las Vegas (34 percent), Columbus, Ohio (33 percent), Tampa, Fla. (33 percent), Memphis, Tenn., (32 percent), and Miami (32 percent).
Sales of bank-owned homes accounted for 10 percent of all U.S. residential sales in September, up from 9 percent in August and also 9 percent in September 2012. Among metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, those with the highest percentage of bank-owned sales were Las Vegas (21 percent), Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif., (20 percent), Cleveland (19 percent), Phoenix (18 percent), and Columbus, Ohio (16 percent).
Annualized sales volume increased from the previous month in 34 out of the 38 states tracked in the report and was up from a year ago in 35 states. Notable exceptions where annualized sales volume decreased from a year ago were California (down 15 percent), Arizona (down 11 percent), and Nevada (down 5 percent).
States with the biggest annual increases in median prices were California (up 30 percent), Michigan (up 25 percent), Nevada (up 23 percent), Georgia (up 20 percent), and Arizona (up 20 percent).
Among metro areas with a population of 1 million or more, those with the biggest annual increases in median prices were San Francisco (35 percent), Detroit (34 percent), Sacramento (33 percent), Atlanta (27 percent), Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif., (26 percent), and Phoenix (25 percent).