Foreclosure activity kept up its uneven descent in July, and a hammerlock grip on California and the Inland Empire, according to statistics released by the real estate information service RealtyTrac.
California retained its No. 1 rank in foreclosures for the second consecutive month, with 19,210 notices of default recorded on houses and condos during July, despite an 11 percent decrease in foreclosure activity from June and a 25 percent decrease from one year ago.
One in every 325 California housing units had a foreclosure filing during the month. That's more than twice the national average.
Foreclosure activity in Riverside and San Bernardino counties fell 18 percent in July, from July 2011, and it has been on a downward trend for the eight months. But it's still a hotbed of activity, the data suggest.
There were 8,012 properties with foreclosure filings in the two-county Inland area in July, only 4,670 less than the entire metropolitan area of Chicago and 360 more than the Atlanta region.
In the Inland region, one out of every 187 homes was reported to be in the foreclosure pipeline.
That's put the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area in the No. 3 berth, right behind Stockton, which posted the nation's highest metro foreclosure rate in July with one in every 153 housing units with a foreclosure filing -- four times the national average -- and Vallejo-Fairfield, where one in every 187 housing units had a foreclosure filing.
"The decreases show the foreclosures are headed downward," said RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist. "Balanced against the new notices, it points out how severe the problem has been in the Inland Empire."
The Riverside and San Bernardino metropolitan area continues to hold some of the highest rates among metropolitan areas in the nation, he said.
For the Inland Empire, there were 3,569 notices of default filed in July. "That's up 16 percent from a year ago," Blomquist said, and it marks the third straight month of year-over-year increases in notice of default filings, the first step in the foreclosure process.
"There are still a lot of distressed homeowners who can't or aren't making their mortgage payments, and the banks are moving forward," Blomquist said, adding that the region should brace for a ? "roller coaster ride."
Chapman University economist Esmael Adibi said the numbers suggest that people are still struggling to keep their homes in part because job creation is anemic.
"We have persistent unemployment among a group of people who've been laid off a long time, and may not be able to take it anymore," Adibi said. "More importantly, it tells me the inventory of homes in the market of stressed properties, which should be going down, is likely to increase down the road because the notice of default is the first step in the process."
Those notices need to decline to achieve broad-based recovery, he said.
Across the nation, there were 191,925 properties getting notices of default, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions, or one in every 686 housing units with a filing.
RealtyTrac said those nationwide numbers represent a decrease of 3 percent from the previous month and 10 percent from July 2011. They also reflect activity patterns that vary significantly from state to state, often hinging on the level of dysfunction there with regard to the foreclosure process, Blomquist said.
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