California banks ease up on foreclosures during holidays

Posted by BoNhia Lee on December 12, 2013 

Habitat for Humanity Fresno County broke ground on its first new home project in a rural community last week.

The nonprofit homebuilder turned the dirt on lots for three homes in the Monte Vista subdivision on Adams Avenue, north of Orange Cove.

Habitat received a $200,000 grant last year from Wells Fargo bank’s housing foundation for the project.

Banks are spreading some joy this holiday season by not foreclosing on struggling California families.

Foreclosure activity plunged to its lowest levels statewide since 2007, according to the monthly report from PropertyRadar, a real estate data company.

In Fresno County, 190 notices of default — the first step in the foreclosure process — were filed last month compared to 229 in October. That’s nearly a 50% decrease from last year when 375 notices were filed.

Notices of sale which set the date and time of an auction also fell to 185 in November compared to 207 the previous month. Last year at this time, 421 notices were filed.

Foreclosure outcomes such as cancellations, properties returned to the bank and those sold to investors followed the trend and fell last month.

Several factors drove November’s decline, said Madeline Schnapp, director of economic research.

“Part of the decline was seasonal because banks are less likely to foreclose on homeowners during the holidays,” Schnapp said.

And the housing recovery has lifted tens of thousands of homeowners out of negative equity reducing the likelihood of default, she said.

But Schnapp reminds people that 1.4 million California homeowners still remain underwater or owe more on their mortgage than the home is worth.

The houses will each have three bedrooms and two bathrooms. This is the first time Habitat has ventured out to a rural Fresno County community to build homes. In 2011, the agency renovated two houses in Parlier.

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