Foreclosure activity during November continued to fall in the Bay Area and at the national level in response to the robo-signing scandal involving foreclosure court documents that unfurled in September.
However, the slowdown in not expected to carry over into next year.
While the foreclosure freeze enacted by lenders has been largely lifted, there are still spillover effects that are slowing down the foreclosure process.
"While part of the decrease can be attributed to a seasonal drop of 7 percent to 10 percent that typically occurs in November, fallout from the foreclosure robo-signing controversy forced lenders and servicers to hit the pause button on many foreclosures while they scrambled to revamp their internal procedures and revise or resubmit questionable paperwork," said James Saccacio, chief executive officer at RealtyTrac.
The Bay Area saw a smaller month-to-month decrease in foreclosure filings than the rest of the country because California is among the states that do not require lenders to go to court to foreclose on home, said Daren Blomquist, marketing and communications manager for RealtyTrac.com.
"It seems to be affecting the Bay Area less than other parts of the country," he said.
Some 5,609 Bay Area homeowners were in some stage of foreclosure in November, an 8.4 percent drop from October, and a 10.9 percent drop from a year ago, according to a report to be released today by RealtyTrac.com.
Nationally, foreclosure filings -- which include default notices, notice of trustee sales and bank repossessions -- stood at 262,339 in November, down 21 percent from October, and a 14 percent decrease from a year ago. Default notices are the first step in the foreclosure process.
Both the month-to-month and year-to-year decrease at the national level were the biggest drops since RealtyTrac began keeping tabs on the foreclosure market in January 2005.
Whatever slowdown is occurring is not expected to not carry over into the first quarter of 2011, he said.
Last month's numbers are "really not an indication of the long-term foreclosure trend," Bloomquist said. —... Aside from the anomaly we are seeing in November, we think the outlook remains fairly bad for foreclosures in general. We expect to see historically high levels continue into 2011. Unemployment is still high, which is a driver of foreclosures." Other factors include resetting home loans and being underwater in a home loan, he added.
Locally, there are mixed signals in the November report, which showed 2,850 Bay Area homeowners received a notice of foreclosure last month, or a 9.7 percent increase from October, and a 10.9 percent increase from a year ago. Another 798 homeowners lost their homes to banks, a 42.3 percent decrease from October, and a 34.1 percent drop from a year ago.
RealtyTrac defines the Bay Area as Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.
In the East Bay, Alameda and Contra Costa had a contrasting picture for foreclosure filings. There was a 39.6 percent increase in foreclosure filings in Alameda County compared to a year ago, whereas Contra Costa County saw a 39.7 percent decrease in year-to-year filings.
Contra Costa's better showing is likely due to more homeowners getting a short sale or a loan modification approved compared with home-owners facing foreclosure in Alameda County, said Kevin Kieffer, a Realtor with the Danville office of Keller Williams Realty.
In Contra Costa County, he said, "foreclosures that are in process, a lot of them keep getting postponed. The banks keep pushing them out," he said. "You are probably seeing fewer homeowners in Alameda County willing to do a short sale or willing to work out a modification with the banks. "... There is probably a correlation."
In Alameda County, 1,243 homeowners received a notice of foreclosure. That's a 49 percent increase from October, and 91.2 percent increase from a year ago. Another 365 homeowners lost their homes to banks, a 30.9 decrease from October, and essentially flat from a year ago.
In Contra Costa County, 992 homeowners received a foreclosure notice, a 15.3 percent decrease from October, and 26 percent drop from a year ago. Another 261 homeowners lost their homes to banks, a 56.1 percent decline from October, and down 62.1 percent from a year ago.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-952-2690.
Notice of defaults yr/yr Nov. % change
Notice of trustee sales yr/yr Nov. % change
Bank-owned REOs yr/yr Nov. % change
All foreclosure activity yr/yr Nov. % change
798 - 34.1