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Foreclosure activity keeps falling in California

Foreclosure activity keeps falling in California
Foreclosure rates are back down to pre-mortgage-crisis levels, though there are some signs that banks are pushing to complete more repossessions. Above, a repossessed home on the market last year in Compton. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

The foreclosure crisis continued to ease this spring, though there are some signs that banks may be taking back more houses now that home prices are higher.

A pair of reports out Thursday show fewer homes falling into foreclosure in California in the second quarter.

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San Diego-based DataQuick said the number of mortgage default filings in the state fell 31.9% in the quarter, to their lowest level since 2005. Meanwhile the number of Los Angeles-area homes that are in some stage of the foreclosure process dropped 20% in the first half of the year, according to Irvine-based data firm RealtyTrac.

Both reports suggest that the stronger housing market and slowly-improving economy, coupled with tighter lending standards in recent years, mean that fewer borrowers are in trouble on their loans. DataQuick counted 7,392 houses actually repossessed by banks in the quarter in California, less than one-tenth as many as were repossessed at the peak of the state's mortgage crisis in the third quarter of 2008.

In its report, though, RealtyTrac did see one cloud on the horizon. While defaults keep falling, the number of repossessions in metro Los Angeles has grown in each of the last three months, a sign that banks may be moving more aggressively to complete foreclosures now that home prices are higher.

DataQuick's report showed repossessions basically flat compared to the first quarter.

Keep an eye on housing and real estate in Southern California. Follow me at on Twitter @bytimlogan

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