California foreclosure activity hits four-year low
Mortgage default notice filings in California fell 19.2% in the second quarter over last year, establishing a four-year low when it comes to new foreclosures in the Golden State. Real estate data firm DataQuick made that report Tuesday, saying it's impossible to come up with a single reason to explain why foreclosure filings in the state fell from 70,051 last year to 56,633 in the most recent second quarter. DataQuick said it's likely the drop comes from a confluence of factors, including policy changes, political decisions and changes within the mortgage servicing industry. “A lot of theories are being floated as to why the numbers are down. Bank policy changes. Legal challenges. Politics. Holding back temporarily so as not to flood the market. The fact of the matter is that no one really knows, outside of lending and servicing industry insiders," said John Walsh, DataQuick's president. "One thing is certain: Homeowner distress spreads fastest when home price declines are steepest. And it now appears likely that, barring some new economic shock, the worst of the price declines are behind us." Citing examples, DataQuick said the statewide median home sales price hit $250,000 in quarter two, down from $260,000 a year earlier. Compared to first-quarter 2009 levels when foreclosure activity was at an all-time high, today's median price is much improved compared to the $227,000 median set two years ago. The median home price nationwide is now at $189,000, according to Realtor.com. That is mostly unchanged from last year when the median hit $190,000. Of the loans still going into default, most of them were originated in the 2005-to-2007 period, DataQuick said. The median origination quarter for defaulted loans is the third-quarter of 2006. Most of the loans made during that period are either owned or serviced by institutions other than the loan's originator. The most common names to surface in the Golden State foreclosure process were JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Bank of America (BAC). Write to Kerri Panchuk.