Sonoma County home foreclosures fell in the first half of 2014 to their lowest level in eight years, dropping 50 percent from a year earlier.

Property owners here lost 141 homes to foreclosure during the first six months of the year, the real estate information service DataQuick reported Thursday. That included 71 homes in the first quarter and 70 in the second.

In another positive sign for the housing market, the number of county homes entering the foreclosure process has fallen to its lowest level in nine years. For the second quarter, DataQuick reported the recording of 169 notices of default, the first formal step in foreclosure proceedings. The default notices declined 40.9 percent from a year earlier and were the lowest for the same peri0d since 132 default notices were filed in the second quarter of 2005, a period of peaking home prices.

“The overall trend is that homeowner distress continues to decline because of a stronger economy and rising home prices,” said DataQuick analyst John Karevoll.

For California, foreclosures fell 24.9 percent in the second quarter to 7,392 homes. Notices of default declined 31.9 percent to 17,524.

Foreclosures peaked in the county in 2008 when more than 2,800 property owners lost their homes. In the last seven years, more than 15,000 homeowners lost properties to foreclosures and short sales, the latter a transaction where the price is less than the amount owed on the mortgage.

— Robert Digitale