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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

DataQuick: California Foreclosure Starts Hover Near 8-Year Low

by Calculated Risk on 5/07/2014 02:49:00 PM

This was released in late April by DataQuick: California Foreclosure Starts Hover Near 8-Year Low

Lenders and their servicers recorded 19,215 Notices of Default (NoDs) on California house and condo owners during this year's first quarter, which runs January through March. That was up 6.0 percent from 18,120 NoDs in the prior quarter, which had the lowest NoD tally since fourth-quarter 2005, and was up 3.5 percent from 18,568 NoDs in first-quarter last year, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

The trough for DataQuick's NoD statistics, which begin in 1992, was 12,417 in third-quarter 2004, while the peak was 135,431 in first-quarter 2009. Each NoD represents a "foreclosure start" because the filing of the Notice of Default begins the formal foreclosure process.

"It may well be that the foreclosure starts in recent quarters don't reflect the ebb and flow of financial distress as much as they reflect a steady state of workload capacity on the part of the servicers. They may well be just working their way through a backlog, stacks of paper piled high on desks," said John Karevoll, DataQuick analyst.

The past three quarters, along with the first quarter of 2013, have seen the lowest NoD totals since late 2005 and early 2006.

Although this year's first quarter was the first to log a year-over-year increase in default filings since fourth quarter 2009, that gain can be attributed to an anomaly early in first-quarter 2013: There was a short-lived plunge in NoD filings in January and February last year as new state laws - known as the "Homeowner Bill of Rights" - took effect, causing lenders and services to pause and adjust. On a year-over-year basis, NoD filings have only increased in January this year, rising 63.9 percent, while February and March NoD levels fell 2.8 percent and 22.5 percent, respectively, from a year earlier.
emphasis added
DataQuick NODsClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the number of Notices of Default (NoD) filed in California each year.   2014 is in red (Q1 times 4).

Last year was the lowest year for foreclosure starts since 2005, and 2013 was also below the levels in 1997 through 2000 when prices were rising following the much smaller late '80s housing bubble / early '90s bust in California.

Overall foreclosure starts are close to a normal level in California (foreclosure starts were over 50,000 in 2004 and 2005 when prices were rising quickly).

Note: Foreclosures are still higher than normal in states with a judicial foreclosure process.