Foreclosure activity - default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions -- in California plunged dramatically in January, according to a report released today by Irvine-based RealtyTrac.
For the first time since January 2007, California did not have the most properties with foreclosure filings among all states.
RealtyTrac's monthly foreclosure market report said foreclosure filings were reported on 18,093 California properties last month, down 39.5 percent from December and a drop of nearly 65 percent from January 2012.
RealtyTrac linked the steep declines to the "Homeowner Bill of Rights," the state legislative package that took effect Jan. 1.
That package codifies some of the changes agreed to in last year's $25 billion national mortgage settlement, negotiated between federal and state attorneys general and five major lenders, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase.
The bills' changes apply to all lenders in California - not just big banks - and extend protections beyond the settlement's 2015 end date.
Stockton was the only California city to crack the nation's top 10 metro areas with the highest foreclosure rates. In January, RealtyTrac said one in every 277 housing units in Stockton had a foreclosure filing, far worse than California's 1-in-753 rate and the national rate of 1-in-869.
Nationally, RealtyTrac said foreclosure filings were reported on 150,864 properties in January, a decrease of 7 percent from December and down nearly 28.5 percent from January 2012.