California foreclosure filings jumped 4% in March, although they dropped 59.3% over the past twelve months, according to ForeclosureRadar. 

Since March 2009, foreclosure filings have been steadily declining as government entities have created a number of programs to lengthen the foreclosure process or provide alternatives to foreclosure, such as short sales, principal balance reduction, loan modification, second-lien extinguishment and various other forms of debt relief. 

Despite a continuing drop in foreclosures, distressed property sales still comprise more than half of the total California real estate sales. According to ForeclosureRadar, distressed properties will remain a crucial part of California’s real estate landscape for the foreseeable future. 

Notices of Default (the first stage of the foreclosure process) increased 14.2% in March, but skyrocketed 72.5% since January. This indicates that some of the regulation-driven declines in foreclosures toward the end of 2012 reversed course, according to ForeclosureRadar. 

California’s foreclosure sales totaled 4,156 in March, a 0.9% drop since February and a 50.7% decline for the year.

The state’s foreclosure process has been hampered by government programs such as HAMP, HARP and the California Homeowners Bill of Rights, which have lengthened it to more than 300 days.