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Mass Foreclosures Finally Trending Down

Monday, September 24, 2012


This year's rising foreclosure numbers across the Bay State showed signs of breaking during the month of July, according to new data from the Warren Group.

The New England real estate publisher reported that foreclosure proceedings were initiated on 1,198 homes in the Commonwealth during the month of July. That number was the lowest monthly measure recorded so far in 2012, bumping January's 1,333 foreclosures into second place.

An End in Sight

"It appears there is a downward trend in foreclosure activity," said Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of the Warren Group.

"A strong economy and recovering housing market is helping lift consumer confidence. This news paired with banks' return to standard foreclosure processes is also helping."

Massachusetts recently posted its best July home sales in seven years when 4,979 single-family homes changed hands throughout the state.

Compared with 1,441 in July of 2011, foreclosures were down by nearly 17 percent year-over-year. However, at 10,623, the running total of foreclosures in 2012 is on track to outpace last year's proceedings, which totaled 6,856 with seven months in the books, by a wide margin.

"Foreclosure activity has been fluctuating for the past year or so--slowing after several banks delayed and examined their own proceedings, and then ramping back up," Warren said.

Bay State foreclosures peaked this year in April with 1,750 before dropping back down to 1,254 in June.

"It appears we're seeing a clearer picture now--less starts and deeds which means homeowners are making payments and working out defaults through short sales and loan modifications."

Home Sales Helping

Wendy Johnson, of Re/Max Professional Associates in Spencer, said short sales have become an increasingly prominent component of the Central Mass housing market.

"The short sale seems to be the thing in the Worcester area," she said.

Worcester Regional Association of Realtors President Diane DeCiccio said the area's housing market is increasingly able to absorb bank-owned properties and may even be outpacing the banks when it comes to moving through housing inventory.

"The banks aren't involved in a lot of them because they're priced so low," she said.

Fending Off Foreclosure

Meanwhile, Attorney General Martha Coakley pumped over $19 million into the state's HomeCorps grant program in August in order to help communities and homeowners reduce the impact of the still-ongoing foreclosure crisis.

A portion of those funds will go to the Massachusetts Association for Community Action for the administration of the Borrower Recovery Initiative. With 21 case managers working in 19 borrower recovery sites, the program aims to provide direct assistance to more than 2,000 households in the form of financial education and counseling, as well as helping families transition following foreclosure proceedings and preventing homelessness, over the course of the two-year grant.

The Federal Reserve's recently announced plans to keep interest rates low through mid-2015 may aid homeowners looking to refinance their current mortgages and stave off foreclosure proceedings as well.


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