Of course, institutional investor activity is concentrated in some metro areas including Atlanta, Tampa, Palm Bay, Fla., Greenville, S.C. and Charlotte, N.C. RealtyTrac considers institutional investors as those entities that have bought 10 or more properties in the past year.

These investors typically buy distressed property, the sales of which have been on the decline. Sale of REO or bank-owned property accounted for 9% of all sales in July, same as the previous month and a year ago.

Short sales -- where the property is sold for less than the mortgage value and the difference is typically forgiven -- however, are on the rise. Short sales accounted for 14% of all sales in July, up from 9% in 2012.

-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj New York.

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