Foreclosures Dipping, But For How Long?

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tracking housing market statistics in California is sort of like watching a roller coaster.
“Yeah, that’s a good way of putting that. We’ve seen a lot of ups and downs in the numbers in California over the last year.” :
Daren Blomquist is with the real estate research firm RealtyTrac. Their new report looks at August. And it shows something significant. For the first time since they started issuing monthly reports, foreclosure activity is down from the same time last year.
“It is something we’ve never seen before and so it’s a good sign and it could be definitely an indication that we’re approaching some type of change in the foreclosure trends in California.” :
Specifically, foreclosures in August were down 9% from a year ago and 15% from the previous month. But that’s not a big shock to Heidi Vento. She’s a real estate agent in the Stockton area – ground zero for the housing market crisis. Vento says many banks have chosen to halt foreclosures at least temporarily while they try to modify home loans.
“So it’s not surprising that they are down. The question is – are they going to be up in September and October once the moratorium’s up at the end of the month.” :
That’s exactly what happened earlier this year after the federal government’s moratorium on foreclosures came to an end.
RealtyTrac’s latest report also shows that the number of bank-owned homes in California during August was down more than 30% from the previous month. Vento says that’s to be expected – banks aren’t eager foreclose on a property because it shows up as a loss on their books.
“The banks are going to hold off as long as they can taking these properties back - so it’s not surprising. But I think to a certain extent it’s almost an illusion and it could easily change within the next 60 days.”   
And RealtyTrac’s Blomquist says there are still a lot of factors driving foreclosures, not least of which is rising unemployment. He says it’s hard to predict if we’ll continue to see year-over-year-decreases. 
“We’d want to see that pattern continue probably for three or four months before we could conclusively say that California foreclosures are headed downward.”
Nationwide, California had the third highest foreclosure rate in August, behind Nevada and Florida.