The Warren Group: August foreclosures in Massachusetts reach lowest monthly level of 2012

Lenders completed 566 foreclosures in Massachusetts in August—the lowest monthly level recorded so far this year, the Warren Group reported Tuesday.

The August 2012 total was 40 percent below the number recorded in August 2011, said the Warren Group, a Boston firm that tracks local real estate activity and that publishes Banker & Tradesman.

August 2012 was the fewest number of completed foreclosures in any month since February 2011, the Warren Group said.

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So far in 2012, a total of 5,975 foreclosure deeds have been filed, an 8.4 percent increase from the comparable months in 2011.

“Fewer foreclosures were completed in recent months, which may indicate a greater effort from lenders to find loan alternatives,” Banker & Tradesman editor Cory S. Hopkins said in a statement. “As banks continue to return to more normal foreclosure procedures and the housing market follows the same path, we are likely to see more good news in coming months.”

The number of foreclosure petitions, the first step in a property seizure, was 1,456 in August 2012, up 4.2 percent from August 2011, the Warren Group said. A total of 12,079 foreclosure petitions have been initiated so far this year, up 46 percent when compared to the same months in 2011.

“Foreclosure starts are close to exceeding the total amount in all of 2011—a seemingly bad sign,” Hopkins said. “However, we’re comparing to a slow year when banks nearly halted their foreclosure proceedings. I don’t think this is cause for much alarm, but something to keep an eye on as foreclosures petitions are often a leading indicator of activity to come.”

Last year, there was a slowdown in foreclosures prompted by allegations of fraudulent and sloppy slopping legal practices among some lenders.

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