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Just a delay: Moratoriums responsible for slowdown in January foreclosure numbers

February 11, 2009 | 11:01 pm

ForeclosureTempered by the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac moratoriums on foreclosure sales that extended through the end of January, default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions dropped 10% in January from December, according to statistics released by RealtyTrac.

Even with those efforts and a 45-day freeze on new foreclosure actions in Florida, January was still the fourth-highest month for foreclosure filings since RealtyTrac began tracking them in January 2005, said Rick Sharga, senior vice president. And January 2009 filings were up 18% from January 2008.

California had the second-highest state foreclosure rate last month, with 1 in every 173 housing units receiving a filing. Nevada foreclosure activity led the nation with 1 in 76 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing.

Among metro areas of 200,000 residents or more, six of the top 10 with the highest foreclosure rates in January were in California. Merced led the nation with 1 in 59 housing units receiving a filing -- nearly eight times the national average.

Other California metros in the top 10: Riverside-San Bernardino at No. 4, 1 in 81 housing units; Modesto at No. 5, 1 in every 84 units; Stockton at No. 6, 1 in every 86 units; Vallejo-Fairfield at No. 7, 1 in every 100 units; and Bakersfield at No. 8, 1 in every 120 houses.

So don't get any false hopes up that the decline in January filings means we're anywhere done with this foreclosure mess. Sharga attributes the temporary drop to the delaying effect of the moratoriums.

-- Lauren Beale

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Photo: A foreclosure sign sits in front of a home in Moreno Valley. Credit: Francis Specker / Bloomberg News