February foreclosure rates beat state in four of six North Bay counties

NORTH BAY -- The proportions of homes in foreclosure in the North Bay last month matched or were below the state average in four of the six counties, and the number of properties at risk of going back to lenders fell throughout the region in recent months, according to a report released today from foreclosure data compiler RealtyTrac.

One in every 294 housing units, or 693 total, in Sonoma County was at some stage of the foreclosure process -- default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions -- in February. There were a total of 3,078 homes in foreclosure at the time of the report. The state average was one in 283.

That Sonoma County total was higher than the prior month, when the county had 657 properties in foreclosure – one in every 309 -- but down from a high of 826 in November.

The highest rate of new foreclosures in the county last month was in Cotati, with one in every 123 homes in foreclosure and a total of 83 properties. Geyserville had among the lowest rates in the county -- one in 847. Santa Rosa had the highest number of foreclosed homes in February -- 263, or one in 318.

Marin County had an average of one in 616 homes in foreclosure in February, totaling 175 new homes. The county had 212 homes in foreclosure in January with a recent high of 271 filings in October, and currently has a total of 987 foreclosed properties.

An average of one in 283 homes, or 194 homes all together, were reported in foreclosure in Napa County. There were 172 homes in foreclosure in January, with a total of 774 currently foreclosed properties.

One in every 377 homes, or 102 properties, was in foreclosure in Mendocino County during the month. In January, 116 homes were in foreclosure. RealtyTrac reported a total of 540 foreclosed housing units.

Solano County had one in 160 homes, or 946 total, going through foreclosure in February. That number was up from 900 in January, with a total of 4,211 foreclosed properties.

With the highest rate in the North Bay in February was Lake County, where 1 of 150 homes were in foreclosure, totaling 236 properties. That level was the highest in the past 12 months. There were 200 homes in foreclosure in January. Lake had a total of 900 foreclosed properties at the time of the report.

California foreclosure activity as a whole dropped to a 51-month low in February, though the state maintained the second-highest foreclosure rate in the nation. A total of 48,422 properties in the state had a foreclosure filing that month, a 6.1 percent decrease from 51,584 in Janurary. The number of foreclosed properties have decreased by 13.9 percent from the prior year.

Nevada maintained the highest rate, at one in every 278 units in foreclosure.

The national foreclosure rate -- one in every 637 homes -- decreased 1.9 percent from January and 8.1 percent from one year prior, according to RealtyTrac.

Brandon Moore, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in the report that the February mortgage and foreclosure settlement negotiated by attorneys general from California and other states is helping to move more properties through the market.

"February’s numbers point to a gradually rising foreclosure tide as some of the barriers that have been holding back foreclosures are removed," said Mr. Moore, in the report. "Although national foreclosure activity was pushed lower by decreases in a handful of larger states, 21 states posted annual increases in foreclosure activity, the most states with annual increases since November 2010."

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