Foreclosure filings against 1.8 million houses across America, including the Inland region, fell 3 percent in 2012 and is down more than 36 percent from the 2010 peak, a year-end report from RealtyTrac said.
But that doesn't mean the state and Inland region wasn't wrangling with homes in distress.
California capped 2012 in the No. 6 spot for states with the highest levels of foreclosure activity. Last year, 319,162 total properties -- one in every 43 housing units -- or 2.3 percent of all households -- got a default notice, scheduled auction or bank repossession.
The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area ranked No. 2 among 20 metropolitan regions in the U.S. for the 57,857 default notices, scheduled auctions and repositions its housing units received in 2012.
In the Inland metropolitan area, 3.8 percent all the housing units -- or one in every 26 -- had a foreclosure filing in 2012. The region was outranked only by Stockton. There, one out of every 25 housing units got a foreclosure filing in 2012.
Daren Blomquist, vice president of Irvine-based RealtyTrac, said the statistics compiled by the online real estate reporting service show the nation is comfortably past the peak of the foreclosure problem and predicted that 2013 will likely be book-ended by two discreet jumps in filings.
Watch for continued increases in states where foreclosures are processed through the courts, and for a spurt in activity toward the end of 2013 after lenders in California adjust to new, foreclosure-related legislation like restrictions on dual-tracking.
Dual-tracking regulations were put in place to stop a practice that had banks taking steps to repossess a home, even as another division talked to homeowners about refinancing or loan modification plans.
Economist Christopher Thornberg, founder of Beacon Economics, said California and the Inland region has been pushing into the comfort zone for some time.
"We've been out of it for awhile,'' he said.
Foreclosure filings across the Inland region in 2012 are down more than 42 percent from 2010 and by more than 23 percent from 2011, according to RealtyTrac data.
"Foreclosures have fallen off the cliff because banks are going to more and more short-sales,'' Thornberg said. "It's easier for them to do that now; and it's playing a big role in how this is shaking out."
The number of mortgages that are seriously delinquent is also falling, Thornberg said, the number of homes in the pipeline to foreclosure is rapidly emptying out.
RealtyTrac data shows the number of Inland region housing units involved in the process in 2012 totaled 57,857, more than 50 percent fewer than the 1.5 million homes that were blanketed with notices of default, trustee sales or take-backs in 2009.
"I think you'll see a huge drop in the number of foreclosures next year at this time," Thornberg said.
"It's pretty clear the market, short of a disaster coming out of Washington, will see a market that will continue to move in a strong direction and foreclosure activity that is going to go away in a very short time,'' he added.
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