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1) Santa Barbara, Calif.
Average short-sale price: $283,825
Average discount vs. nondistressed sales: 42.69%
Santa Barbara experienced the biggest increase in short-sale purchases, which rose 107% during the fourth quarter from a year prior, nationwide, according to RealtyTrac. Real-estate agents say buyers returned to the market late last year in search of deals as home prices appeared to bottom out: the median sales price of all properties in the city was roughly $600,000 at the end of 2012, down from about $700,000 in 2010 and approximately $800,000 in 2008, according to listings site Trulia.
Average short-sale price: $149,094
Average discount vs. nondistressed sales: 37.84%
Buyers have been…