Mortgage foreclosures surged in California during the first five months of this year, according to figures from TRW Redi Property Data, Riverside, Calif.

And no letup is in sight, as delinquencies also climbed sharply.

Southern California was hit hardest, with the number of foreclosures reaching 18,750, up about 79% from 9,968 through May of last year. The foreclosures involved $4.4 billion of loans.

Los Angeles

While the figures include commercial foreclosures, the TRW unit estimated that 85% involved owner-occupied residences.

Los Angeles was hit especially hard. Foreclosures in the county almost doubled, climbing 98.3% to 8,703, from 4,388.

Most northern counties were also hit. A total of 2,670 residential and commercial foreclosures was recorded in the Bay Area, a 45% increase from 1,840 a year earlier. The value of the defaults was put at $755 million.

In San Francisco, foreclosures jumped 68.9%, but the numbers were small. This year, 277 properties were foreclosed, as against 164 last year.

Southern California and the Bay Area together showed an increase in foreclosures of 74%. They account for more than 90% of the state's mortgages.

At the other end of the scale, Marin, Alameda, and San Diego counties have experienced relatively small increases in foreclosures.

Courthouse Filings

The figures from TRW are considered especially accurate as they represent actual courthouse filings of trustee deeds.

Meanwhile, a report by Mortgage Information Corp., San Francisco, says serious delinquencies in the Los Angeles area -- three or more missed payments -- jumped by 69% in the first quarter from the year-earlier level. Serious delinquencies doubled in the Santa Rose-Vallejo area and rose 48% in the San Francisco area.

Almost all of the big increases in delinquencies were in California, but the worst rise in the country was in Honolulu, where delinqencies jumped 114%.

Nationally, the three areas with the highest rates of serious delinquencies were all in New Jersey: Monmouth and Ocean counties, the city of Newark, and Bergen and Passaic counties.

New York City was in fourth place, and Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York ranked fifth.

The delinquency rates for those areas of New Jersey and New York, however, were little changed since last year.

A few areas in the country -- especially in the Northeast -- showed sharp drops in serious delinquencies. Those areas included New Haven, Hartford, and Fairfield County in Connecticut, and Boston. Others were New Orleans; Oklahoma City and Tulsa; Tucson, Ariz.; and Austin, Tex.

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