From the (we just covered February’s lower stats this morning!):

Following a lull in the final months of 2010, foreclosure activity has rebounded to its levels before last fall’s so-called robosigning scandal.

Lenders foreclosed 1,141 San Diego County homes in March and issued notices of default for 2,102 properties, according to numbers provided by the San Diego County Assessor’s Office. Both measures of foreclosure activity are the highest monthly totals since September 2010.

“Because (banks) had delayed all of those foreclosures because of the moratorium, they built up a backlog and we’re playing that out right now,” said Alan Gin, professor of economics at the University of San Diego.

Home repossessions fell from 1,253 in September to a three-year low of 787 in November when revelations that bank employees had approved foreclosures without adequate review of underlying documents led many national lenders to institute a temporary foreclosure moratorium.

Despite a marginal decrease from January to February, trustee deeds — the last step in the foreclosure process — have gradually increased since November, and are now back in line with the monthly totals that predated the robosigning scandal.

In March, notices of default fell 15.6 percent annually, while increasing 22.7 percent on a month-over-month basis.

Similarly, trustee deeds decreased by 11.4 percent from the year-ago month while increasing 17 percent from February.

“The numbers are probably going to have an ebb and flow for a little while,” said Robert Martinez, director of research at MarketPointe Realty Advisors. “It’s hard to tell, since banks are being so calculated with when they’re actually moving forward with this stuff.”

Through three months, there have been 5,850 notices of default filed with the assessor’s office, or 12.7 percent fewer than during the year-ago period.

Compared to the same period in 2010, trustee deeds have dropped 11.1 percent this year, to 3,170.

“I think we’ll probably see (the foreclosure numbers) stay elevated for a while,” Gin said. “We’re seeing an improving job situation, but probably not fast enough to make a difference.”

Last fall, real estate experts said the robosigning incident would delay the local housing market’s collective effort to reduce the so-called shadow inventory of distressed properties.

According to an estimate from John Burns Real Estate Consulting (JBREC), there were 64,789 homes in San Diego County that are 30 or more days delinquent, or that have been foreclosed but have yet to be made available for sale.

Based on a range of probabilities, the company estimated that those homes represented between 12 and 16 months of supply that isn’t currently evident in the housing market.

(JtR: there were 33,323 MLS sales in 2010)

Tim Sullivan, principal of JBREC, said the county would need to show a steady increase in its monthly foreclosure numbers to begin eating into that total.

The county’s performance in job creation will primarily dictate whether the size of the shadow inventory works out closer to the low end of the 12- to 16-month range.

San Diego County is on pace to add roughly 20,000 new jobs this year, according to Gin, who also developed and publishes University of San Diego’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators for the county.

To meaningfully improve the foreclosure situation, that number would need to jump into the 25,000-30,000 range, he said.

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