Activity peaked in the 1996 first quarter at 59,897 transactions. “Current foreclosure levels are extremely low and this increase is a step towards more normal activity,” said DataQuick president Marshall Prentice. Prices continue to indicate that activity will remain low. But appreciation rates are moderating. For example, in the third quarter the statewide median home price increased an annual 17.6 percent to $454,000. A year ago the increase was 19.5 percent. On a loan-by-loan basis, mortgages are least likely to go into default in San Francisco and Santa Barbara counties. The likelihood is highest in the Central Valley and Inland Empire. Only about 10 percent of homeowners who find themselves in the default process actually lose their homes to foreclosure. Most are able to stop the foreclosure process by bringing their mortgage payments current, or by selling their home and paying the loan off. Jim Ezell, president of the Van Nuys-based Southland Regional Association of Realtors, said the San Fernando Valley market remains strong and that there is not much foreclosure activity here. One thing to keep track of, though, is whether adjustable rates continue to rise, since they made up a such a big chunk of mortgages last year. “Industry-wide, we’re probably looking at the end of 2007 for more activity if it’s going to happen,” Ezell said. “That’s when the adjustables are getting their due date. That’s when the day of reckoning might come.” Gregory J. Wilcox, (818) 713-3743 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Foreclosure activity in California increased annually for the first time in more than three years during the third quarter, reflecting lower appreciation rates and riskier loans, an industry tracker said Thursday. But it is not a sign of widespread market distress because foreclosure activity is increasing off an extremely low level, said La Jolla-based DataQuick Information Systems. During the third quarter, lenders sent default notices to 12,568 California homeowners, up 3.5 percent from the year-ago period and up 0.8 percent from the second quarter, said La Jolla-based DataQuick Information Systems. The last annual increase was a 5.2 percent jump to 30,225 notices in the 2002 first quarter. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Southern California saw a year-over-year increase in foreclosure activity of 19.9 percent, while the Bay Area saw a 13.1 percent decline and the Central Valley a 22.5 percent drop. “The numbers are so low that any change is going to be a bit of an increase,” said DataQuick analyst John Karevoll. “We’re not going to be concerned about these numbers until they are triple what they are now.” He notes that a year ago, foreclosure activity in Los Angeles County was at a record low. The numbers have have been so low that the company has not been paying as much attention to them as in the past. When the residential real estate market tanked in the 1990s, DataQuick tracked foreclosure activity on a monthly basis. But the company switched to quarterly reports when the market began booming in 2000.