Industry News

California real estate foreclosures fall to record low

Homeowners saved by strong sales, price appreciation

Foreclosures in California dropped to the lowest level in more than 13 years in 2004, thanks to robust home sales and strong appreciation rates, according to DataQuick, a real estate information service. Lending institutions sent default notices to 56,125 California homeowners last year. That was down 32.9 percent from 83,600 in 2003, DataQuick reported. Last year's default count was the lowest DataQuick has in its statistics, which go back to 1992. Default activity was the strongest in 1996, when 217,410 homeowners suffered foreclosure. "There's always a going to certain level of financial distress out there. People lose jobs, get divorced or have costly medical emergencies even in the best of times. Right now, though, because of increasing home values, virtually everyone can sell or refinance if they're really in trouble," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president. "We expect foreclosures to go up this year. It's likely that appreciation rates will come down somewhat. And als...