LOS ANGELES -- The number of Los Angeles County homes slipping toward foreclosure jumped by 25.7 percent in the third quarter, compared to the same period last year, while statewide loan-default numbers fell for the first time in three years, a real estate information service reported Thursday.
Lenders sent default notices to a 17,073 homeowners in Los Angeles County in the third quarter of the year, up from last year's third-quarter total of 13,583, according to La Jolla-based MDA DataQuick.
In Orange County, default notices were sent to 5,692 homeowners, up 46.6 percent from the 2007 third-quarter total of 3,882.
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Statewide, default notices were sent to 94,240 homeowners in the third quarter of the year, DataQuick reported. That's a 22.5 percent drop from the previous quarter but a 29.9 percent increase from the same quarter last year, when 72,571 default notices were sent.
The third-quarter decline in default notices was attributed primarily to a change in the state's foreclosure process that took effect in September. Without that change in the law, the default filings likely would have rivaled the record number reached in the second quarter, according to DataQuick.
"What's interesting is that the surge in activity certainly did level off during the second and third quarters," said DataQuick president John Walsh. "A lot of the market's distress is working its way through the system and the spectacular jumps in activity may be behind us. Or it may be that those processing the default paperwork are just maxed out."
Default notices do not always lead to a home foreclosure, according to DataQuick. In general, an estimated 20 percent of homeowners emerge from the foreclosure process by bringing their payments current, refinancing or selling the home.