California has lost its grip as the nation's capital when it comes to
foreclosure, a new RealtyTrac report recapping July activity shows.
Foreclosure activity in July was highest in the states of Florida, Maryland and Ohio.
California's ranking fell to No. 17, behind all of its counterparts in the West: Arizona, Oregon, Nevada and New Mexico. This is the sixth consecutive month that California has played second-fiddle in top rankings to other states in the nation.
The Los Angeles market -- and the Inland area of Riverside and San Bernardino counties -- also saw far fewer notices of default, auctions or lender repossessions per household in July than big cities in other parts of the nation, a departure from the last few years.
The Inland area , with 2,588 filings, measured a 68 percent drop in foreclosure-related activity from July 2012, the RealtyTrac data said.
The ratio of Inland housing units in foreclosure -- one out of every 576 properties -- is half what it had been for several years.
Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, an Irvine-based reporting service that gained national prominence as a foreclosure monitor when the housing bubble burst, said foreclosure activity continues to boil over in a select group of markets.
But the boil in some places is being reduced to a hard simmer, the data shows.
Foreclosures in the Riverside and San Bernardino counties area hit a 69 month low in November 2012, a level not seen since February 2007 when housing starts slowed to a crawl and it became apparent that the bubble had popped.
DataQuick reported that July short sale transactions were at the lowest level since May 2009, as well. Short sale transactions made up an estimated 14.5 percent of Southland re-sales in July, down from 26.2 percent a year earlier.
For much of 2013 now, California and the Inland region no longer dominated the leader board in foreclosure filings.
Rich Cosner, chief executive of Prudential California Realty, said the leveling off has caused more homes to come onto the market from sellers who are not in a state of mortgage duress
It's helping home prices to snap back. Earlier this week DataQuick reported that the median sales price of a home in July was about 25 percent higher in Inland Southern California than where it was 12 months ago.
Because these prices moved up in favor of the homeowners, more people are putting their home on the market. "Over time, this will relieve the dire inventory shortage,'' Cosner said.
Blomquist has said the state's inventory of distressed housing stock has been moving through the pipeline as other states with judicial oversight on mortgage repossessions were on the sidelines. Now, the backlog of delayed foreclosures in states with the more lengthy judicial foreclosure process is playing out.
"The foreclosure boil-over markets are becoming fewer and farther between,'' he said.
That doesn't mean California is completely out of the woods: The Golden State had 6,299 foreclosure starts in July and 2,035 properties taken back by lenders. One in every 1,029 housing units in California had a foreclosure-related filing in July, the data shows.
Florida's foreclosure activity, by comparison, is blanketing one in every 328 properties.
Nine cities in Florida rank on the Top 10 list of municipalities in the nation with the highest number of foreclosure filings. Five of those cities saw foreclosure activity rise from one year ago.
For the country as a whole, foreclosure activity rose 2 percent in July from June with filings on 130,888 properties. But default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions are down 32 percent from July 2012.
The level of activity is also down 64 percent from the March 2010 peak of more than 367,000 properties with foreclosure filings in March 2010. It's still 54 percent above the historical average set in March 2006 of 85,000 properties with foreclosure filings per month.
Follow Debra Gruszecki on Twitter @DebInPalmSprngs and check her blog on pe.com/business
TOP STATE FORECLOSURE RANKINGS
No. 1: Florida, third consecutive month
Nine cities ranked in the Top 10 Metro Chart for highest foreclosure rates nationwide. One in every 328 housing units in Florida had a foreclosure filing -- three times the national average
No. 2: Maryland
Foreclosure starts rose 275 percent, with one in every 598 housing units in distress
No. 3: Ohio
No. 4: Connecticut
No. 5: New Mexico
No. 17: California
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