California home mortgage defaults rose almost 19% in the third quarter from a year earlier as job losses and falling property prices deepened the state's housing recession, MDA DataQuick said.

Homeowners in the state received 111,689 default notices, the San Diego data firm said Tuesday. The number fell 10% from the previous three months.

Lenders may be slowing property seizures to avoid "flooding the market with cheap foreclosures in this economic environment," John Walsh, MDA DataQuick's president, said in a press release.

The median price of a California home dropped to $251,000 in September, down 11% from a year earlier, MDA DataQuick said last week.

California's record 12.2% unemployment rate in August compared with 7.6% a year earlier. Nationally, unemployment hit 9.8% in September.

"There's a batch of truly nasty loans that were made in mid-2006," Walsh said. "It's taking a long time to process them."

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