Notices of Default (NoDs), the first step in the foreclosure process, fell 2.2 percent in the first quarter to 68,239, according to analytics firm DataQuick.
Late mortgage payments were down 15.8 percent from the 81,054 seen in the first quarter of 2010 and hit their lowest point since the second quarter of 2007.
The record was 135,431 default notices seen in the first quarter of 2009.
“Lenders and servicers have put various temporary holds on foreclosure filings while they work on procedural issues and respond to regulatory and legal challenges,” said DataQuick president John Walsh, in a release.
“It’s unclear how much of last quarter’s decline can be attributed to market factors and strategic decisions, and how much can be attributed to the formalities of the foreclosure process.”
The median loan origination quarter for the defaulted loans continues to be the third quarter of 2006, when inflated home prices, weak underwriting, and risky loan programs such as the option arm were prominent.
California homeowners were a median six months behind on their mortgage payments when the mortgage lender filed the NoD, owing a median $15,818 on a median $323,667 mortgage.
For home equity loans and lines of credit (second mortgages), borrowers owed a median $4,076 on a median $67,222 credit line.
DataQuick noted that the most active “beneficiaries” in the formal foreclosure process were Chase (9,634), Wells Fargo (8,329) and Bank of America (7,158).
Loan servicers that pursued the highest number of defaults last quarter were ReconTrust Co (mostly for Bank of America and MERS), Quality Loan Service Corp (Bank of America), California Reconveyance Co (JP Morgan Chase), NDEx West (Wells Fargo) and Cal-Western Reconveyance Corp (Wells Fargo).
Trustees Deeds recorded (TDs), which are the actual loss of a home to foreclosure, totaled 43,052 during the first quarter, up 21.5 percent from the prior quarter and 0.5 percent from the first quarter of 2010.