Default notices shoot up

It's what you would expect with home prices flat to down and those teaser-rate mortgages making way for resets that aren't nearly as forgiving. Statewide, 46,760 notices of default were filed in California in the first quarter, according to DataQuick Information Systerms. That's up 23.1 percent from the previous three months and 148 percent from the same period a year earlier. But while the first quarter numbers are a record in San Diego, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties, L.A. defaults were almost 60 percent below the first-quarter peak in 1996. Of course they are: the economy is doing cartwheels compared with 11 years ago. That's why you need to be wary of all the naysaying on the cable channels. "Today's activity reflects a peak in the number of home loans made back in the summer of 2005," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick's president. "Additionally, the loans being made back then were riskier because of the subprime activity, as well as higher appreciation rates. It's easier to make a loan when the security for that loan is going up in value, than when values are flat." The loans going into default last quarter had a median age of 15 months, which tells you a lot about the role that teaser rates are playing in the current downdraft. And as you might expect, they're heavily concentrated in areas with lots of first-time homebuyers.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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