Dovetailing with a statewide trend, Riverside County's foreclosure activity dropped last month to levels not seen in years, a real estate tracking firm reported this week.
A total 1,718 mortgage default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions were recorded countywide in January, translating to 1 in 462 households in some stage of foreclosure, according to Irvine-based RealtyTrac.
The number of filings was down 40 percent from December and 64 percent lower compared to January 2012, figures showed.
According to RealtyTrac, the sharp decline in area foreclosures resulted in Riverside County having the 12th highest foreclosure rate in the state -- marking the first time the county has been outside the top 10 since at least the winter of 2007.
Neighboring San Bernardino County ranked No. 9, with 1 in 449 households in default.
San Joaquin County was No. 1, with 1 in 277. The balance of the top 10 comprised counties concentrated in the northern half of the state.
"The U.S. foreclosure landscape in January was profoundly altered by the effects of new legislation that took effect in California on the first of the year," said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.
"Dubbed the 'Homeowners Bill of Rights,' this legislation extends many of the principles in the national mortgage settlement -- including a prohibition on so-called dual tracking and requiring a single point of contact for borrowers facing foreclosure -- to all mortgage servicers operating in California."
"The new law imposes fines of up to $7,500 per loan for filing of multiple unverified foreclosure documents," he added. "As a result, the downward foreclosure trend in California accelerated into hyper-speed in January, decisively shifting the balance of power when it comes to the nation's foreclosure activity."
Nationally, 150,864 properties slipped into foreclosure in the first month of the year, according to RealtyTrac. The activity represented a 7 percent drop from December and a 28 percent decline from January 2012.
California ranked No. 8 in U.S. foreclosure activity last month, with 18,093 properties going into default, or 1 in 753, according to RealtyTrac. The figure was 39 percent below the number of filings in December and 65 percent less than a year ago.
Florida had the highest foreclosure rate nationwide, with 1 in 300 households in default in January.
—City News Service