The latest report from RealtyTrac shows that, nationwide, foreclosure starts have hit a 79-month low.

Filings in January (which include “default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions”) were down 28 percent from a year ago, and hit the lowest level since February 2008.

What happened? California. It’s “Homeowners Bill of Rights” prohibits lenders from “dual-tracking” — talking short sale out of one side of their mouths while starting foreclosure proceedings out of the other. It also fines banks that file unverified documents — no more forging signatures or robosigning.

As a result, foreclosures in California have slowed dramatically (down 75 percent year over year), as lenders find they actually have to work with homeowners. This bodes well for similar nationwide rules put forth by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Not only are foreclosure starts down; bank repossessions have also dropped — they’re down 24 percent since last January

U.S. bank repossessions (REO) decreased 5 percent from the previous month and were down 24 percent from January 2012 to the lowest level since February 2008.

Fewer foreclosures = more homeowners staying put, which is good for neighborhoods, property values, sales, and of course, the people themselves.