California foreclosure activity hits 6-year low

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Foreclosure sign

Foreclosure sign (AP Photo)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A real estate research firm says California home foreclosure activity has fallen to a six-year low.

DataQuick said Wednesday that default notices totaled a little over 38,000 during the fourth quarter, down 38 percent from the same period of 2011. It was the lowest tally since the fourth quarter of 2006.

Default notices are the first step in the foreclosure process.

The San Diego-based firm credits rising home values, an improving economy and shift toward short sales — when the sale price is less than what is owed on the property.

The median sales price for new and existing houses and condominiums in December was up 20 percent from a year earlier, with the San Francisco Bay area seeing its sharpest increase in more than two decades.

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