Foreclosure and default rates in North San Diego and Southwest Riverside counties fell in February compared with 12 months earlier, according to a North County Times analysis of records from data firm ForeclosureRadar.
While foreclosure and default rates remain well above those of a healthy housing market, the pipeline for new foreclosures has been slowing for over a year as local jobless rates improved and delinquencies declined. For Southwest Riverside County, February marked the 22nd consecutive year-over-year drop in foreclosure rates. North County's annual foreclosure rate fell in 20 of the past 22 months.
"It's more signs of healing," said G.U. Krueger, principal economist for HousingEcon.com. "What's behind it are the delinquency rates, which are, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, coming down in California."
In North County, lenders initiated the foreclosure process by sending 1.5 notices of default per 1,000 households in February, down 15.4 percent from January and down 3.1 percent from February 2011. Lenders foreclosed on 0.6 houses per 1,000 households, down 32 percent from January and down 34 percent from 12 months earlier. A healthy housing market has 0.25 foreclosures per 1,000 households, Krueger said.
In Southwest County, 3.1 borrowers per 1,000 households received a notice of default, down 8 percent from January and down 22.6 percent from February 2011. Lenders foreclosed on 2.1 houses per 1,000 households, down 20.1 percent from the month before and down 22.1 percent from February 2011.
Krueger sees particular hope in the declining rate of notices of default.
"The pipeline of new foreclosures is declining also," he said. "And that's driving the actual foreclosure decline."
Local foreclosures run counter to a predicted trend of more foreclosures. Last month, five major banks and 49 state attorneys general announced a settlement in a lawsuit over improper foreclosure procedures. Some analysts said to expect a wave of foreclosures now that banks were freed from the threat of a lawsuit.
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