Foreclosure activity in the Sacramento region plunged by more than half in November compared with the same month a year before and decreased significantly even since October, RealtyTrac reported Wednesday.
Altogether, bank repossessions and pre-foreclosure notices of delinquency and impending auctions fell by 52 percent from November 2011 to November 2012 across Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties, the Irvine-based data firm said. They fell by 14 percent from October to November of this year.
The biggest change came in the number of homes entering the foreclosure pipeline because of failure to make payments.
Notices of default issued by lenders to borrowers who are 90 days delinquent on their mortgage payments fell by nearly two-thirds, from 2,447 in November 2011 to 832 last month. The notices formally start the foreclosure process.
"There are fewer people struggling to make their payments and therefore not as many people entering foreclosure," said Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac vice president. "For those who are struggling, there are more options on the table for them to avoid foreclosure, including short sales."
Short sales, in which lenders accept less than what's owed, increased by 58 percent from the second to the third quarter of 2012, Blomquist said.
"We're seeing a pretty big increase in short sales in California, and Sacramento specifically," he said.
Meanwhile, auction notices and bank repossessions the middle and final steps in the foreclosure process continued falling from month to month and year to year.
In November 2011, there were 767 repossessions in the four-county Sacramento region; in November 2012 there were 650.
Notices of trustee sales which alert borrowers that their home will be auctioned fell by half, from more than 2,200 in November 2011 to about 1,100 in November 2012.
The feared backlog of foreclosed homes which some said would continue to drag down home prices for years to come has largely failed to materialize because California has been quick to process foreclosures and investors have quickly bought up available inventory, Blomquist said.
Other states, such as Florida, are now experiencing a higher rate of foreclosures, he noted.
"With California's more streamlined foreclosure process, we don't have a big backlog of properties," he said. Whether that continues in the months to come remains to be seen, he said.