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TheStreet Open House

California Foreclosures Return With Vengeance

Stocks in this article: BACWFCBNYJPM

SAN DIEGO (DQNews) -- After dropping to a three-year low in the second quarter of this year, the number of California homeowners being pulled into the foreclosure process snapped back to prior levels over the last three months, a real estate information service reported.

A total of 71,275 Notices of Default (NoDs) were recorded at county recorders offices during the third quarter. That was up 25.9% from 56,633 for the prior three months, and down 14.4% from 83,261 in third-quarter 2010, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

Last quarter's 71,275 NoDs, which mark the first step in the formal foreclosure process, jumped back to levels seen earlier this year and late last year. Lenders filed 68,239 NoDs during first-quarter 2011 and 69,799 in fourth-quarter 2010. NoDs peaked in first-quarter 2009 at 135,431.

"Figuring out what's actually going on when it comes to foreclosures can be a logistical nightmare. In each case there are at least six or seven different legal entities contending with each other, each with a different agenda and timeline: The original lender, the homeowner, the current owner or owners of the loan, the servicing institution, the outfit doing the actual foreclosing, and the county recorder's office," said John Walsh, DataQuick president.

"The way it looks right now, it's reasonable to expect default filings to run at a somewhat higher level than we saw earlier this year," he said. "Obviously, some lenders and loan servicers have begun to plow through their backlogs of delinquent loans more aggressively."

Most of the loans going into default are still from the 2005-2007 period: the median origination quarter for defaulted loans is still third-quarter 2006. That has been the case for almost three years, indicating that weak underwriting standards peaked then.

The most active beneficiaries in the formal foreclosure process last quarter were Bank of America (BAC) (14,325), Bank of New York (BNY)(11,052), and Wells Fargo (WFC) (9,740).

The most active trustees, companies doing the actual foreclosing, last quarter were ReconTrust Co (mostly for Bank of America and Bank of New York), Quality Loan Service Corp (Bank of America), California Reconveyance Co ( JP Morgan Chase (JPM)), Cal-Western Reconveyance Corp (Wells Fargo) and NDEx West (Wells Fargo).

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