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HEARD ON THE BEAT / REAL ESTATE

Hot Market Forestalls Foreclosures

June 26, 1998|DARYL STRICKLAND | Daryl Strickland covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670, and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com

As the housing market continues at a torrid sales pace, foreclosures retreated in April. Lenders began the legal process of repossessing homes on 11,410 houses and condos throughout the state, down 14.7% from 13,373 in March, according to Acxiom/DataQuick Information Services.

The all-time peak was reached in March 1996 when 15,475 homes fell into foreclosure, but statewide figures over the past 18 months generally have been declining.

In Orange County, homes that were in danger of being foreclosed on fell to 630 in April, a 28% decline from a year ago. That number is expected to continue to decline as the area's median-priced home hit $226,000 in May, an all-time high. With prices rising, many struggling homeowners "can now sell and pay off the mortgage," said Mike Ela, DataQuick's president. "That wasn't always an option a year or two ago."

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