Foreclosure notices across California dropped 18% in April while foreclosure sales rose, according to a monthly report released today by ForeclosureRadar, which tracks each foreclosure in the state and provides daily auction updates. Sales at auction rose by 35% overall, with a record number of properties selling at an average 28% discount from the estimated market value. Notices of Default -- the first step in the foreclosure process -- fell 18.2% from the previous month and dropped 1.1% from the same time last year, the report found. Notices of Trustee Sale, which set the auction date and time, declined 8.5% from the previous month. Lenders took back 11,916 foreclosures representing $5.3bn in total loan value for which no third-party bid was received at auction. A substantial 99% of these represented first mortgages. ForeclosureRadar estimated potential losses by junior lenders in excess of $623m on 6,911 junior loans wiped out by foreclosure. Foreclosures affect house prices across the nation. So-called “distressed” sales including foreclosures and short sales accounted for nearly half of all transactions tracked in Q109 by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The heavy ratio of distressed sales, which traditionally fetch about 20% less than non-foreclosures, pulled down median home prices in most markets. Of the 152 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) tracked by NAR, 134 — or nearly 87% — reported lower median existing single-family home prices. Write to Diana Golobay.