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California foreclosure rate eases in February

Data company reports month-to-month drop

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California's foreclosure rate fell in February compared to January but was up from the fourth-quarter 2007 average, research and data company ForeclosureRadar reported Wednesday. Foreclosure sales at auction in the state fell 15 percent compared to January, with 16,931 sales at a combined loan value of $6.85 billion. Notices of default dropped 7.6 percent to 37,362, and notices of trustee sale (which set the auction date and time) fell 20 percent. The rate of defaults rose 26 percent, though, compared to the fourth-quarter 2007 average, and foreclosure sales were up 36 percent. "February declines are a welcome break from the astonishing increases in December 2007 and January 2008," said Sean O'Toole, ForeclosureRadar founder, in a statement. "Unfortunately, those increases and the continued withdrawal of lending options point to more trouble ahead. Based on current activity levels, we still do not expect foreclosures to peak earlier than the third or fourth q...