San Diego County’s fitful pattern of distress continued through November, based on Monday’s report from a major real estate information company. Figures from DataQuick show the number of San Diegans who lost their homes to foreclosure has flattened, while default notices in the county dipped.
The data firm counted 666 foreclosures in November, down 0.1 percent from October and down 7.9 percent from a year ago. Last month’s tally is now the lowest since November 2007, when the county recorded 478 trustees’ deeds, which signal a home has been lost to foreclosure.
Meanwhile, 1,645 residents in November received default notices, which kick off the formal foreclosure process. That’s 14.4 percent lower than October and 0.9 percent lower than a year ago. The county saw a higher-than-usual blip of such notices in August, when they soared to 2,094. But default notices have since fallen to numbers closer to the one-year average of 1,593, DataQuick figures show.
Falling foreclosure or default numbers don’t automatically mean the distressed market is getting better. Drops could also be attributed to other reasons, including lender hold-ups and the effects of the robo-signing scandal, in which banks had reportedly employed workers who signed off on loan paperwork without proper review.
DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage said the short- to medium picture of distress still looks “very murky,” considering we don’t know how lenders are maintaining their inventories of homes. Another unknown is how many borrowers will complete the formal foreclosure process instead of taking alternate routes that include short sales and loan modifications.
What we do know: It took on average of 9.9 months for a home in California to be foreclosed on, starting with the notice of default, based on a third-quarter analysis by DataQuick. That’s up from 8.7 months in the third quarter of 2010.
We also know: The majority of current home-loan defaults are from four to six years ago, with the median at the third quarter of 2006, the most recent DataQuick numbers show. That’s been the case for almost three years, which shows lax rules in mortgage underwriting likely peaked during that time, the report added.