Home buyers hoping to snag a really good deal on a foreclosed home are finding it increasingly difficult because supply is shrinking.

The number of foreclosures that are available for sale nationwide fell to 617,000 in December, down from 845,000 in November 2008, reports Barclays Capital.

Not only have attractive homes in popular neighborhoods already been snapped up, but also government help for distressed buyers is delaying more foreclosures.

Demand is driving up prices. Investors say typical prices have climbed from 75 percent of appraised value to 85 percent or higher when there are bidding wars.

Source:  Wall Street Journal