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California foreclosure starts rise nearly 20% in February

March 15, 2010 | 10:17 am

The number of California homes pushed into the foreclosure process by banks jumped 19.7% in February from the month prior, according to a report released Monday.

There is a growing gap between those Californians falling behind on their house payments and those actually losing their homes, according to the report by

“The disconnect between delinquencies and foreclosure sales continues to widen,” Sean O’Toole, chief executive of ForeclosureRadar, said in a statement. “While efforts to slow foreclosures are clearly working, it remains unclear that anything has yet addressed the core problem of excess household mortgage debt.”

Experts say the gap reflects efforts by banks to keep people in their homes through the Obama administration's $75-billion plan to help troubled borrowers as well as a reticence on the part of lenders to flood the market with a glut of discounted properties.

After declining for four consecutive months, the number of notices of default filings hit 31,004 in February, according ForeclosureRadar. Notices of default are the first stage of the foreclosure process.

The number of properties scheduled for foreclosure sale also remained near record levels. However, actual sales of foreclosure properties, whether back to the bank or those sold to third parties, dropped 11.9% in February from the month prior.

-- Alejandro Lazo