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Fewer California homes heading for foreclosure

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New California foreclosure actions posted a sharp plunge in the first quarter to levels not seen since the previous housing boom.

Lenders filed 18,567 mortgage default notices on homes and condominiums during the first three months of the year, down 51.4% from the previous quarter and a drop from 67% from the same time last year, according to DataQuick.

The drop is due to rising home prices, a strengthening economy and government interventions designed to curtail foreclosures. 

"It appears last quarter’s drop was especially sharp because of a package of new state foreclosure laws -- the 'Homeowner Bill of Rights' — that took effect Jan. 1," said John Walsh, president of DataQuick.

He added, "Default notices fell off a cliff in January, then edged up."

Meanwhile, default notices remained more prevalent in California's cheaper neighborhoods, according to DataQuick.

Among the state's biggest counties, loans were least likely to go into default in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

The number of homes taken back by lenders through the foreclosure process also fell last year quarter to 35.7% from the previous quarter and 55.1% from the same time period last year.

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