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HEARD ON THE BEAT / REAL ESTATE

Foreclosure Tide Recedes in Coastal Areas

December 10, 1997|E. Scott Reckard | E. Scott Reckard covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7407 and at scott.reckard@latimes.com

The tide of foreclosures that was a legacy of Southern California's long recession continues to recede in the region's coastal counties, according to the Anaheim-based real estate data provider Experian.

Experian researcher Nima Nattagh projects that lenders will repossess 7,011 Orange County properties this year, down 8.5% from 7,666 in 1996 and about the same drop as in booming San Francisco Bay area. Nattagh anticipates 5.8% fewer foreclosures in San Diego County and 8.4% fewer in Ventura County.

In Los Angeles County, foreclosures were expected to rise by 3.4% to 34,307 for the full year. But even there, Nattagh said, foreclosures have "turned the corner" as the year ends.

That's not so in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, where this year's foreclosure rate is ahead of last year's by about 14% and 33% respectively. Foreclosures also continue to soar in Kern, Sacramento and San Luis Obispo counties, Nattagh reported.

Statewide, foreclosures are up 8% for the year. Nattagh estimates that by year-end, 99,456 properties with a combined mortgage value of $13.1 billion will have been taken back by lenders.

One reason for the increase, though, is the generally improving economy, Nattagh notes. Rising property values in many areas actually encourage some foreclosures, he said, as lenders figure they can get bad loans off the books at less of a loss than when the real estate market was declining.

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