Lenders filed 83,261 notices of default in California for the third quarter, down 25.5% from the more than 111,689 filed a year ago, according to San Diego-based real estate data provider MDA DataQuick. Defaults were up 18% from the previous quarter but 38.5% below the peak in the first quarter of 2009, when lenders filed 135,431 notices of default. But John Walsh, president of MDA DataQuick, said the steady stream of default filings over the past year has more to do with capacity than lower levels of distressed homeowners. Going forward, the company could not conclude how recent foreclosure issues at the banks would affect numbers in the fourth quarter. “Policies can vary on how to use the formal foreclosure process in taking homes back and reselling them," Walsh said. "It would be nice to think that servicers are carefully following all the rules and regulations, but in the real world there are differences of interpretation, as we’ve seen in the news recently. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in fourth-quarter trends." Defaults do seem to be spreading from lower-cost submarkets within California to more expensive neighborhoods, according to the report. The most affordable ZIP codes in the state accounted for 41.2% of all defaults, down from 42.9% a year ago and 53.3% from the fourth quarter of 2009. But the more affordable areas are still seeing higher concentrations. ZIP codes with median prices below $200,000 saw 14.4% of every 1,000 homes receive a filing, compared to 2.7% in ZIP codes with prices above $800,000. Write to Jon Prior.