SAN DIEGO — A research firm says California home foreclosure activity neared a seven-year low during the third quarter as rising prices left fewer homeowners in trouble.

DataQuick said Tuesday that there were more than 20,300 default notices filed from July through September, down 59 percent from the same period last year. It was the lowest level since the first quarter of this year and second- lowest since the first quarter of 2006.

Default notices are the first step in the foreclosure process. DataQuick says there were slightly more than 8,000 foreclosures completed during the third quarter, down 65 percent from a year earlier to the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2006.

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