Foreclosure Deals Harder to Find

The number has dropped 22 percent from October

It's getting harder to find foreclosure deals on houses.

Fewer Riverside County households fell into foreclosure last month, but the number was still higher than a year ago, a real estate tracking firm reported Thursday.

A total 7,470 mortgage default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions were recorded in Riverside County in November -- a 22 percent drop from October, but a 9 percent increase compared to a year ago, according to Irvine-based RealtyTrac.

The month-to-month decline moved the county from No. 1 to No. 4 in statewide foreclosure activity. According to data, 1 in 101 county households were in some stage of foreclosure in November.

Merced County had the highest foreclosure volume, followed by San Joaquin County and Stanislaus County. San Bernardino County was just behind Riverside in foreclosure activity, according to RealtyTrac.

The drop in defaults locally mirrored a statewide trend. Figures showed foreclosure filings in California fell 13 percent last month, though activity was still up 22 percent compared to November 2008.

Officials credit new loan modifications and the recently extended homebuyer tax credit for some of the reduction.

"This is providing a welcome respite for the real estate industry, but a full recovery will only come when unemployment recedes to normal, healthy levels and when availability of credit reaches a more rational balance between the extremes of the past two years."

With 73,995 households in default last month, California ranked third in nationwide foreclosure activity, dropping from second place in October, according to RealtyTrac.

Nevada had the highest rate, followed by Florida. Data indicated Arizona was just behind California, and Idaho rounded out the top five.

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