Some improvement in California foreclosures

The Sacramento BeeSeptember 14, 2012 

— Statewide foreclosure numbers released Thursday illustrated the depth of California's real estate crash.

While August numbers for numerous Golden State jurisdictions and the state itself were a vast improvement over the recent past, many still ranked among the worst in the nation.

Irvine-based RealtyTrac said foreclosure activity – default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions – fell by double-digit percentages across the Sacramento region and statewide in August, compared with August 2011.

In the Sacramento region last month, properties with foreclosure filings totaled 3,184, with one in every 274 homes having a filing. That was down 40.1 percent from August 2011 and a 16.8 percent decline from July.

Still, the region ranked 11th on the list of U.S. metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates.

In fact, California communities held the top seven spots on the national list. Modesto topped it, with one in every 172 homes in distress. But even that rate was down nearly 23 percent from August last year.

Statewide, foreclosure activity decreased by 32 percent in August compared with last year.

Despite that and a ninth consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease, California had the third-highest foreclosure rate among the 50 states, trailing Illinois and Florida, respectively.

RealtyTrac said one in every 340 California housing units had a foreclosure filing in August – twice the national average of 1-in-681.

"It's this whole story that things are getting better, but it doesn't mean things are good yet," said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. "So, no, this is not a switch from a bad housing market to a good housing market.

"In California, things were so bad that, even with the big decreases we're seeing, there's still a way to go."

Blomquist said the Sacramento region and all of California could see "a couple more spikes in foreclosure activity over the next year and a half … a couple more last gasps" as lenders continue to work through distressed inventory.

Nationally, RealtyTrac said foreclosure filings were reported on 193,508 U.S. properties in August, an increase of 1 percent from July but down 15 percent from August 2011.

Blomquist noted that "deferred foreclosure activity boiled over in several states in August." That was true in Illinois, which topped the state foreclosure-rate list (1 in every 298 homes) for the first time since RealtyTrac started issuing reports in January 2005.

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