LOS ANGELES (AP) — Fewer U.S. homes are ending up repossessed by banks because investors are increasingly buying up properties when they go on sale at public auction.

The foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac says the number of homes taken back by lenders in October slipped 1 percent from a month earlier and declined 29 percent from October last year.

Homes scheduled for public auction rose 10 percent last month from September and 7 percent from October last year in states where courts must sign off on foreclosures.

Meanwhile, the number of homes that got started on the foreclosure path in October rose 2 percent from the previous month, but fell 34 percent from a year earlier.

Foreclosures peaked in 2010 at 1.05 million and have been declining ever since.