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California sees record foreclosure starts

Auction sales down, but defaults spike in March

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Lenders started foreclosure proceedings on a record number of California homes in March, even as sales at auction fell dramatically, data aggregator ForeclosureRadar reported. The number of California homes subjected to notices of default -- the first step in the foreclosure process -- surged 29.3 percent from February to March, to 54,268, the company said. That's a 26.3 percent increase from a year ago, and 25.8 percent above the April 2008 peak. Notices of trustee sale -- formal notice that an auction date has been set for a home -- were up 82.3 percent from February to March and 19.6 percent from a year ago, but 15 percent below a July 2008 peak. Some 10,040 homes were sold at auction in March, ForeclosureRadar said, marking a 41.4 percent decline from February and off 36.6 percent from a year ago. Banks take back the majority of properties that go to auction, but about 11 percent of auction sales were to third parties. ForeclosureRadar founder and Chief Executive Offi...