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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP / BARBARA MURPHY

Foreclosures Down for Quarter, Up for Year

November 12, 1996|BARBARA MURPHY

Lending institutions started foreclosure proceedings on fewer Ventura County homeowners last quarter than in the previous quarter, but there was still a marked increase from a year ago, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 728 notices of default went out during the July-to-September period, down 13% from 838 for the second quarter and up 23.7% from 589 for last year's third quarter, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

Statewide, foreclosures were up 18.7% from a year ago, DataQuick reported. For all Southern California counties, including Ventura, the figure was a 15.9% increase from third-quarter 1995.

"Foreclosure activity is a so-called lagging indicator, meaning that we're looking at year-and-a-half-old economic distress," said Donald L. Cohn, DataQuick CEO. "While foreclosure rates appear to be declining slightly, foreclosures will be with us until home prices go up another 2 or 3%."

California home prices have started to inch back up. The third-quarter median was $168,000, up 1.2% from $165,000 for the same period a year ago.

A notice of default is the first step of the formal foreclosure process, which can take four months or more. During that time, many homeowners may bring their mortgage payments current, deed the property to the lender, or sell their home and pay the mortgage off before the foreclosure process is completed.

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