California Foreclosure Activity Continues to Rise

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX All Stars

La Jolla, CA.--Lenders sent California homeowners the highest number of mortgage default notices in over a decade last quarter, the result of flat or falling prices, anemic sales and a market struggling with the excesses of the 2004-2005 home buying frenzy, a real estate information service reported.

Lenders filed 53,943 Notices of Default (NoDs) during the April-through-June period. That was up 15.4 percent from 46,760 for the previous quarter, and up 158.0 percent from 20,909 for second-quarter 2006, according to DataQuick Information Systems of La Jolla.

Last quarter's default level was the highest since 54,045 NoDs were recorded statewide in fourth-quarter 1996. Defaults peaked in first-quarter 1996 at 61,541. A low of 12,417 was reached in third-quarter 2004. An average of 34,172 NoDs have been filed quarterly since 1992, when DataQuick's NoD statistics begin.

"A lot of the loans that went bad last quarter were made at or just beyond the cycle's peak, between summer '05 and summer '06. Appreciation rates for most of that period were in the double digits and lenders let many households stretch their finances to the max, and beyond. It's that pool of 'beyond' mortgages that the market is working its way through," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick's president.

Most of the loans that went into default last quarter were originated between July 2005 and August 2006. The median age was 16 months. Loan originations peaked in August 2005. The use of adjustable-rate mortgages for primary purchase home loans peaked at 77.8% in May 2005 and has since fallen.

Because a residence may be financed with multiple loans, last quarter's 53,943 default notices were recorded on 50,901 different residences, up 162.8 percent from 19,370 for second quarter 2006.

On primary mortgages statewide, homeowners were a median five months behind on their payments when the lender started the default process. The borrowers owed a median $11,126 on a median $342,000 mortgage.

On lines of credit, homeowners were a median eight months behind on their payments. Borrowers owed a median $3,457 on a median $67,121 credit line. However the amount of the credit line that was actually in use cannot be determined from public records.

DataQuick, a subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts. DataQuick provides online access to property information, including default notices. Notices of Default are recorded at county recorders offices and mark the first step of the formal foreclosure process. Due to late data availability, statistics for Alameda County are extrapolated.

The default numbers reflect wide regional differences. The second-quarter numbers were a record in Riverside, Contra Costa, Sacramento and most Central Valley counties. In Los Angeles County it was still less than half the first-quarter 1996 peak, reflecting the depth of the recession in the mid-1990s, as well as the relative strength of today's housing market.

On a loan-by-loan basis, mortgages were least likely to go into default in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. The likelihood was highest in San Joaquin, Merced and Riverside counties.

The median price paid for a California home purchased between July 2005 and August 2006 was $460,000. Of those homes, the median price paid for those that went into default last quarter was $445,500, mostly because of low default rates at the high end.

Roughly half, 54.6 percent, of the homeowners in default emerge from the foreclosure process by bringing their payments current, refinancing, or selling the home and paying off what they owe. A year ago it was 88.0 percent. The increased portion of homes lost to foreclosure reflects the slow real estate market, as well as the number of homes bought during the height of the market with multiple-loan financing. In selling a home, all loans must be paid off, which is not the case in the formal foreclosure process, where second mortgages and lines of credit are most often written off.

 

Notices of Default
houses and condos

County/Region2006Q22007Q2%Chg
Los Angeles4,58610,393126.6%
Orange1,2552,984137.8%
San Diego1,7784,383146.5%
Riverside2,2876,648190.7%
San Bernardino1,8395,141179.6%
Ventura4521,059134.3%
SoCal*12,27130,828151.2%
San Francisco127257102.4%
Alameda6491,612148.4%
Contra Costa7252,316219.4%
Santa Clara5301,275140.6%
San Mateo222463108.6%
Marin58118103.4%
Solano3501,065204.3%
Sonoma202462128.7%
Napa47128172.3%
Bay Area2,9107,696164.5%
Santa Cruz73155112.3%
Santa Barbara147434195.2%
San Luis Obisp79208163.3%
Monterey128483277.3%
Coast4271,280199.8%
Sacramento1,3523,840184.0%
San Joaquin6041,983228.3%
Placer276627127.2%
Kern5491,593190.2%
Fresno5901,380133.9%
Madera92215133.7%
Merced214642200.0%
Tulare25842865.9%
Yolo77232201.3%
El Dorado86222158.1%
Stanislaus4071,286216.0%
Kings507550.0%
San Benito33122269.7%
Yuba45171280.0%
Colusa1439178.6%
Sutter5610994.6%
Central Valley4,70312,964175.7%
Mountains*155328111.6%
North Calif*44384791.2%
Statewide20,90953,943158.0%
* includes additional counties

Trustees Deeds recorded, or the actual loss of a home to foreclosure, totaled 17,408 during the second quarter. That is the highest number in DataQuick�s statistics, which go back to 1988. That was up 57.8 percent from 11,032 for the previous quarter, and up 799.2 percent from 1,936 for last year�s second quarter. The prior peak of foreclosure sales was 15,418 in third-quarter 1996, the low was 637 in the second quarter of 2005.

There are 8.4 million houses and condos in the state.

While foreclosures tugged property values down by almost 10 percent in some areas eleven years ago, their effect in most markets today is still negligible. However, the continued rise in NoDs means that the number of homes lost to foreclosure will continue to increase in the second half of this year. Foreclosure levels are already high in certain Inland Empire and Central Valley markets, where the worst-hit neighborhoods might already be seeing property values eroded somewhat by foreclosures, DataQuick reported.

 

Recorded Trustees Deeds
houses and condos

County/Region2006Q22007Q2%Chg
Los Angeles2872,581799.3%
Orange110821646.4%
San Diego2921,714487.0%
Riverside2812,509792.9%
San Bernardino1371,489986.9%
Ventura37316754.1%
SoCal Total*1,1529,504725.0%
San Francisco949444.4%
Alameda69480595.7%
Contra Costa627781154.8%
Santa Clara38256573.7%
San Mateo1797470.6%
Marin625316.7%
Solano36324800.0%
Sonoma18163805.6%
Napa3341033.3%
Bay Area Total2582,206755.0%
Santa Cruz1346253.8%
Santa Barbara16137756.3%
San Luis Obispo4521200.0%
Monterey81541825.0%
Coast Total41389848.8%
Sacramento1751,662849.7%
San Joaquin647851126.6%
Placer29220658.6%
Kern255332032.0%
Fresno40402905.0%
Madera655816.7%
Merced72403328.6%
Tulare17142735.3%
Yolo110310200.0%
El Dorado4892125.0%
Stanislaus365221350.0%
Kings727285.7%
San Benito538660.0%
Yuba4842000.0%
Sutter1057470.0%
Central Valley Total*4304,9691055.6%
Mountains*8901025.0%
North Calif*47250431.9%
Statewide1,93617,408799.2%
* includes additional counties

Source: DataQuick Information Systems

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