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A record number of San Diego mortgages went into default last month. 3,705 homes entered this initial stage of foreclosure, surpassing the previous high of 3,601 default notices delivered in April 2008.

Trustee sale notices, which occur later in the foreclosure process, remained well below their records, but since they lag default notices it is reasonable to expect that they will rise soon as well.

The following graph shows that the default respite enabled by a late-2008 change to state law was short-lived:

For all the relative briskness of housing activity, sales are still quite low in terms of their historical relationship to default notices (a comparison that allows us to roughly gauge how demand stacks up against potential must-sell supply). This chart shows that the new surge in defaults has returned us to just above the all-time lows in the number of homes sales per mortgage default:

This next chart shows the sales-per-default trend for this housing bust along with the 1990s downturn for comparison:

That one really puts it in perspective: February’s sales-per-default figure would have to double, and then some, just to reach the very lowest level achieved during the entire 1990s housing bust.

— RICH TOSCANO

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