The number of notices sent alerting California homeowners of at least one missed mortgage payment reached 37,273 between October and December, DataQuick Information Systems reported this morning.

That number is 36.9 percent higher than the rate in the previous quarter. Compared to the same three month period in 2005, it’s an increase of 145 percent.

Foreclosures rose dramatically in San Diego County, as well. Default notices sent in the last three months of last year numbered 3,150, well more than double the number sent in the same period in 2005.

The increase in the state’s rate of default notices, while dramatic, still does not come close to the highest level ever recorded in the first three months of 1996, when more than 60,000 such notices were sent in the state, DataQuick said.

David Streitfeld has a must-read story on these numbers in the LA Times today, including the story of a man who refinanced his home to leave his wife with $100,000 in case he didn’t make it through a risky operation.

Now, he says, “Three times a week, they call and say, ‘Where’s my money?’” he said. “If I hadn’t survived, everything would have been fine.”

A majority of the loans entering default last quarter originated between January 2005 and February 2006, DataQuick’s report stated.

Most people who get these notices find ways to make their payments, refinance or sell their homes to pay their outstanding debt. But the number of California homeowners who actually lose their homes is growing. For those who received default notices in the first quarter of last year, 32 percent of them lost their home to foreclosure at the end of the year.

In 2005, the rate was 8 percent.

The number of actual foreclosure sales — also known as trustees deeds — was more than 6,000 last quarter, representing an increase of nearly 600 percent from the last quarter of 2005.

To put these numbers in context, there are 7.87 million homes and condos in California, according to DataQuick.


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