Foreclosures fall in California and the nation, but don't get used to the drop

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A bank foreclosure sale sign is posted in front of townhouses on Aug. 12, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Foreclosure activity took a big dip nationwide last month, said Irvine-based RealtyTrac, an online marketplace of foreclosure properties. But California's foreclosure rate remained one of the highest in the country.

The foreclosure fall-off was mainly fall-out from the foreclosure processing and robo-signing controversy. RealtyTrac's Darren Blomquist said that in California, the number of properties that reached the final stage of foreclosure fell 40 percent from October to November.

"Banks are holding back from completing a foreclosure on more properties to make sure they have all their ducks in the row before they do that," Blomquist explained. "Because once they do that, then they’re the new owner of the property and they’re responsible for it and if there’s any questions about the foreclosure done improperly it could come back to haunt them at that point."

Blomquist said that the foreclosure fall-off is temporary, and that the numbers should go back up again early next year.

On Thursday, police arrested 22 demonstrators who staged a protest against home foreclosures outside a downtown Los Angeles branch of Chase bank, reports the Associated Press.

Detective Gus Villanueva said there were no injuries to demonstrators or police during the noon-hour protest that blocked the entrance to the building lobby while other supporters marched on a sidewalk.

Villanueva says the protesters will be cited for trespassing and released.

The demonstrators included people facing foreclosure, homeowner rights advocates and labor leaders. Some are wearing signs that say "Save Homes Arrest the Wall Street Criminals."

Despite a 14 percent drop in foreclosure activity from October, California’s November foreclosure rate placed third, behind Nevada and Utah. With 57,378 properties receiving a foreclosure filing during November, RealtyTrac said that by itself, the Golden State accounted for more than one-fifth of the country’s foreclosure filings. According to Blomquist, California appears to be weathering a long storm.

"Of pretty much any of the states that have been hardest hit by foreclosures, California has shown the most positive momentum over the last year," Blomquist said, adding that foreclosures have fallen consistently here this year, they’re just falling from a very high place.

"We continue to have problems in the overall economy and the housing market that are driving foreclosures," said Blomquist.

That means California will feel foreclosure pain throughout the year ahead.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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