The number of U.S. homes entering the foreclosure process fell in January to a level not seen since the peak of the housing boom.
Foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday that the sharp drop was a consequence of a package of state laws aimed at stemming foreclosures that went into effect in California at the beginning of the year.
All told, 64,773 homes nationwide were placed on the path to foreclosure in January, the lowest monthly total since June 2006.
January's figure represents a decline of 28 percent from a year earlier and an 11 percent drop from December.
Meanwhile, lenders took possession of the fewer homes last month.
Completed foreclosures totaled 50,453 in January, down 24 percent from a year ago and a 5 percent drop from December.