Mixed data on home defaults

Local foreclosure rates remained high in October, matching national trends, but plummeted in La Crescenta after a three-month period when the area’s rate surged above the state average, according to the latest figures.

A report prepared for the Glendale News-Press by real estate tracking firm RealtyTrac showed foreclosure rates in Burbank and La Cañada Flintridge also declined from September, although the figure grew in Glendale.

The most dramatic shift was in La Crescenta, where one in 160 homes were in foreclosure, down from the September rate of one in every 81 homes, the Irvine-based firm said.

La Crescenta’s high rate of foreclosures had baffled real estate agents, experts and residents after a third quarter when one in 48 homes had received loan default notices, scheduled foreclosure auctions or been repossessed by banks.

Still, overall area foreclosure rates have occurred with less frequency at a national level over the last three months, according to RealtyTrac.

Government involvement in the home market, from an increased emphasis on loan modifications to a renewal of the federal first-time home-buyer tax credit, has helped to give more options to homeowners in recent months, said Paul Habibi, professor of real estate at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

“In the near-term it looks like the foreclosure climate has quelled a little bit,” Habibi said.

One in 298 Burbank homes — or 152 — were in foreclosure during October, according to the report.

That was down 27% from September, when 193 homes were in foreclosure. Still, the rate in Burbank remains more than double what it was a year ago, when one in 604 homes had received foreclosure filings.

In La Cañada Flintridge, 19 homes, or one in 381, were in foreclosure, down from 21 a month ago, the report said.

But a total of 238 Glendale homes, or one in 290, were in foreclosure during October, according to the report.

That was up 32% from September, when one in 384 homes were in foreclosure. The average rate of foreclosures in California is one in every 156 homes, according to the firm.

High foreclosure rates appear to be a result of a combination of factors, such as unfavorable loan terms and increasing unemployment rates, observers said.

“Theoretically, if the economy tends to continue to chug along the way that it is, we are going to see more foreclosures,” said Keith Sorem, a Glendale-based agent for Keller Williams Real Estate.

The rebound in the La Crescenta home market was puzzling after a month when 133 homes went into foreclosure, observers said.

The spike could have been a result of the state’s 90-day moratorium on foreclosures, which was lifted in August and would have allowed for any pending foreclosures to kick in, Sorem said.

“The only think I can think of is that you had properties that were already in the process of being foreclosed, and once the moratorium was lifted, the actual sequence would be that they would move on into foreclosure,” he said.

But that would have likely occurred across all California-area markets and not just in La Crescenta, he said.


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