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Mortgage Defaults Take A Fall

— If you’re looking for good news on the housing front, here’s some. Notices of default, the first step in the foreclosure process, fell 19 percent last quarter in California compared to the same time last year. In San Diego the news was even better. Defaults were down almost 24 percent from the second quarter of 2010.

An Encinitas home in foreclosure.
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Above: An Encinitas home in foreclosure.

The news came from real-estate analysts at DataQuick, whose spokespersons say the true reason for this trend is known only to the banks issuing the notices. There are plenty of theories as to why notices of default are down. They range from bank policy changes to legal challenges to politics.

“But one thing is certain,” said DataQuick president John Walsh. “Homeowner distress spreads fastest when home price declines are steepest. And now it appears likely that, barring some new economic shock, the worst of the price declines are behind us.”

A total of 56,633 default notices were issued in California from April to June. That’s not only down from the same time last year; it’s down 17 percent from the first quarter of this year. San Diego saw 4,158 notices of default from April to June. Same time last year, the number was 5,458.

Houses across the price spectrum saw declines in default notices. But defaults remained concentrated among lower-priced homes. DataQuick reports that houses in low home-price zip codes saw nine foreclosures per 1,000 homes last quarter. The statewide average was three foreclosures per 1,000 homes.

The San Francisco Bay area was the least likely to see default notices, while three counties in the Central Valley were the most likely to have their residents receive them.

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