California's foreclosure crisis may be over, mortgage bankers say

The Sacramento BeeMay 20, 2010 

For once California's economy looks good compared to that of some other states.

A foreclosure crisis that has dimmed the state's golden glow with images of financial ruin and broken government is beginning to wane, says a leading trade group for the U.S. mortgage industry.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday that California foreclosure starts have fallen from a year ago — even as problems grow in Midwestern Rust Belt states such as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

"California is showing signs of improvement. We are seeing it on a quarter-to-quarter basis and year-over-year basis," MBA Chief Economist Jay Brinkmann said.

Consider:

• In the past year California moved from fourth place among U.S. states for foreclosure starts to seventh.

• Mortgage delinquencies, while up from early 2009, fell slightly in early 2010.

• The percentage of California mortgages in the foreclosure process fell, too, during the past year.

California's fragile improvements come as the national picture is less clear. Collectively, the longtime mortgage disaster areas – Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada – are becoming less of a problem nationally, MBA data showed.

"A year ago they had 45.3 percent of the problem loans," said Brinkmann. "That's down to 37.9 percent."

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