Foreclosure starts drop across the West Coast
Foreclosure starts across the West Coast plummeted in December as California, Nevada and Washington reported double-digit declines in new mortgages entering the process, according to ForeclosureRadar. California, in particular, saw foreclosure starts decline by 30.6% to 16,465 filings in December, while foreclosure sales grew 3.2% to 11,097 transactions. The time it takes to foreclose in the Golden State also fell by 16.9% to 250 days. The Discovery Bay, Calif.-based firm said California experienced an unexpected 45.8% spike in foreclosure cancellations from November. ForeclosureRadar said the sudden rise stems from the closing of trustee sale locations in Norwalk, Calif. "This closure caused more than 5,000 sales to be cancelled in December," the company said. Those sales are expected to resume at other trustee locations in California. The states of Nevada and Washington saw foreclosure starts decline 14% and 17.3%, respectively, while Arizona reported a drop of 24.2%. Oregon went against the grain, reporting a 5% increase in foreclosure starts. ForeclosureRadar said changes in the regulatory landscape are still playing a role in the final foreclosure numbers. For example, Nevada's new foreclosure law led to a decline in both foreclosure starts and sales, with foreclosure sales alone falling 27%. "Nevada's new foreclosure rules appear on track to bring a near complete halt to foreclosures in that state," said Sean O'Toole, founder and chief executive officer of ForeclosureRadar. "In the near term this will certainly help homeowners who were facing foreclosure, eviction, and potentially deficiency judgements. Longer term, we believe there will be unintended consequences for the state as business declines for the many real estate related companies that would normally service, resell and finance those foreclosures." Write to Kerri Panchuk.