Foreclosure crisis is drawing to a close

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The number of new foreclosure filings in August hit its lowest level in nearly eight years, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties.

Soaring home prices and a big decline in underwater borrowers — those who owe more on their mortgage loans than their homes are worth — have helped drive the trend.

August’s initial foreclosure filings fell 44% to 55,575, just below the 56,063 that were recorded in October 2005. The foreclosure crunch began in summer 2006, at about the same time that housing prices hit their peak.
“This is a strong indicator that the crisis is over,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “The foreclosure floodwaters have receded in most parts of the country, although lenders and communities continue to clean up the damage left behind,” he added.

The mopping-up process continues, however. In August, for example, the number of homes repossessed by lenders rose 6%, compared with July, to 39,277. But that still represents a drop of 25% year-over-year, and is more than 60% below the peak of repossessions in September, 2010.

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Southern California home sales jump in August

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Southern California posted its strongest home sales for August in seven years as rising prices lured more sellers off the sidelines, a research firm said Thursday.

There were 23,057 new and existing houses and condominiums sold in the six-county region, up 2.8 percent from 22,438 homes sold in August 2012, DataQuick said. The increase would have been much higher without a steep drop in sales of low-priced homes.

Sales of homes between $300,000 and $800,000 skyrocketed 31.4 percent and sales of homes above $800,000 surged 48 percent.

The median sales price was $385,000, up 25 percent from $309,000 in August 2012. It matched a five-year high and marked the 13th straight month of annual double-digit gains.

“Sellers have seen an amazing price jump from just a year ago, allowing many to finally sell at a profit,” said John Walsh, president of San Diego-based DataQuick.

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