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Foreclosures fall in California and U.S. -- but it may not last

March 14, 2012|By Alejandro Lazo
  • A foreclosured home in Islip, N.Y., sits empty and boarded up.
A foreclosured home in Islip, N.Y., sits empty and boarded up. (Getty Images )

The foreclosure picture brightened last month in California and nationwide, but the improvement may not last, according to Irvine data tracker RealtyTrac.

California’s forclosure activity fell 13% to a 51-month low in February compared with a year earlier, with foreclosure filings going to 48,422 properties in the state, or 1 in 283 homes.

In Los Angeles and Orange counties, all forms of foreclosure filings fell 18% in February from a year earlier. Filings include notices of default, notices of foreclosure sales and repossessions. Foreclosure filings dropped 11% in the Inland Empire and 9% in San Diego County over the same time period.

Nationwide, February filings declined 8% from a year earlier, with 206,900 U.S. properties receiving some sort of foreclosure notice, or 1 in 637 housing units. The February decline was the lowest annual decrease since October 2010, as several states saw foreclosure increases in the wake of the settlement over foreclosure improprieties with five major lenders.

“February’s numbers point to a gradually rising foreclosure tide as some of the barriers that have been holding back foreclosures are removed,” RealtyTrac Chief Executive Brandon Moore said. “Although national foreclosure activity was pushed lower by decreases in a handful of larger states, 21 states posted annual increases in foreclosure activity, the most states with annual increases since November 2010.

Moore predicted that more states will see foreclosure increases in the coming months.

Nevada also saw a 56% decline in foreclosure activity but still had the nation’s highest foreclosure filing rate at 1 in 278 houses.

“California is one of the major states driving the downward trend,” said Daren Blomquist, an analyst with RealtyTrac. “The main takeaway nationally looking at the numbers is that we are gradually seeing the foreclosure logjam break up, but it is not happening across the board in all places at the same time.”

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