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ECONOMY UP, FORECLOSURES DOWN.

Byline: Gregory J. Wilcox Staff Writer

Foreclosures across California plunged 12.9 percent on an annual basis during the third quarter to the lowest level since 1992, thanks to a strong economy and rising home values, an industry tracker said Friday.

Results in Los Angeles County mirrored those of the state, with foreclosure activity dropping 13 percent, said DataQuick Information Systems.

For the three-month period ending Sept. 30., lending institutions started foreclosure proceedings on 21,006 homeowners, down from 24,111 in 1999's third quarter. Default proceedings fell 2 percent from the second quarter.

Last quarter's number was the lowest since 18,806 default notices were issued in the first-quarter of 1992. The all-time peak was first-quarter 1996 when, 44,665 homes went into foreclosure.

``We may be nearing a point where the numbers stop declining. There is a base level of foreclosure activity, and we may be near it. Even in the best of economic times, some households can experience financial turbulence,'' said Mike Ela, DataQuick president.

Lenders in Los Angeles County initiated 5,984 foreclosure proceedings in the third quarter compared with 6,949 in the year-ago period. The local foreclosure activity peaked in the fist quarter of 1996, when 14,106 default notices were issued.

In the Bay Area, where housing prices have soared, foreclosure proceedings actually increased slightly.

Foreclosure activity tends to decline when home prices go up, because homeowners can sell for more than they owe on the property.

Two-thirds of all homeowners in default are able to stop the foreclosure process by bringing their mortgage payments current, or by selling their home and paying the mortgage off. Two years ago, only half the distressed homeowners were able to do that.

With foreclosures this low, the only think keeping the region's housing market from a full recovery are some pockets in the Antelope and San Gabriel valleys and South Los Angeles where prices have not returned to their pre-recession peaks, said Jack Kyser, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit, nongovernmental group.

``It's good news for everybody except the bargain hunters, who are always out there trying to score some deals,'' Kyser said of the low foreclosure rates.

CAPTION(S):

chart

Chart: FORECLOSURES

Recorded notices of default in Los Angeles County.

SOURCE: DataQuick Information Systems
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 11, 2000
Words:385
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