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L.A. LOW IN FORECLOSURES RATES BEAT NATION'S TOP MARKETS.

Byline: Gregory J. Wilcox Staff Writer

For the second consecutive month, the Los Angeles metropolitan area recorded the lowest foreclosure rate of the country's top five markets during May, and industry tracker said Wednesday.

The company's data base tracks activity in 1,900 counties across the country.

Last month the Los Angeles metro area had one property in some stage of the foreclosure process for every 4,242 households, less than half the national rate, the company said. Nationally, one home out of every 1,853 households was in foreclosure.

The low local rate is not surprising, considering that housing prices are at or near record levels in many communities in the area.

So homeowners have flexibility if they encounter financial turbulence.

``The appreciation of home values provided them with a (large) amount of equity, which gives them the option of either refinancing or selling at a profit,'' said Rick Sharga, the company's vice president of marketing.

Foreclosure activity in the Los Angeles area has been tracking at historical lows for several years, he said.

Foreclosures in Los Angeles County accounted for 21 percent of California's activity. But the county average was still below the state's, the company said.

Orange County was one area that bested Los Angeles, with one foreclosure for every 5,075 households.

Although the number of foreclosures in Riverside and San Bernardino counties dropped in May, activity there remained above the state and national averages, which is typical.

Riverside County recorded one foreclosure for every 1,597 households, and San Bernardino County recorded one foreclosure for every 1,694 households.

Meanwhile, the state's foreclosure rate was well below the national average in May, with one foreclosure for every 3,300 households. The number of foreclosures statewide dropped 16 percent from April, far outpacing a nationwide decline of 2.5 percent.

Not much change in this pattern is expected, said Nima Nattagh, a real estate market consultant.

``Any time the real estate market is buoyant and prices are increasing it's very unlikely that foreclosure rate will go up,'' he said.

New Mexico had the highest rate, with one property for every 554 households in foreclosure.

Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743

greg.wilcox(at)dailynews.com
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 23, 2005
Words:368
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