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Downward Foreclosure Trend Continues In Massachusetts

BOSTON (AP) — The number of foreclosure petitions filed in Massachusetts has remained below 1,000 for the fourth month in a row after the petitions marking the first step in the foreclosure process fell more than 38 percent in February when compared with a year ago.

The Warren Group, an independent publisher of real estate data, reported Tuesday that lenders filed 856 petitions in February, down from 1,394 the previous February. The Boston-based publisher reported there were 1,796 foreclosure petitions filed so far this year, which is a 34 percent decline from 2,727 recorded during the same period last year.

The decline is fueled by improvements in the job market, a booming real-estate market as well as lenders' willingness to do short sales and modify loans, Warren Group CEO Timothy Warren said.

"More personal income makes it easier for people to catch up on delinquent mortgages," Warren said in a podcast published on his group's website. "And more confidence in the economy and the real estate market helps borrowers to avoid feeling helpless."

"Seeing four consecutive months of petitions below 1,000 is a promising sign," he said.

Lenders filed 240 foreclosure deeds in February, the final step in the foreclosure process. That marks a 69 percent decline from 767 filed a year ago. A total of 532 foreclosure deeds have been filed so far this year, representing a 66 percent decline from 1,384 recorded at the same time last year, the group said.

The boom experienced in the real-estate market over the past few months — with sales volumes and median prices soaring — is also fueling the trend, he said.

"Homes that are owned by lenders after foreclosure must be finding offers to be purchased, and homeowners who are in distress are finding potential buyers beating a path to their door," Warren said. "Whether it is investors or first-time homebuyers, there is a ready market for owners who are ready to sell."

Auction announcements dropped 76 percent to 330 over the past year. The total number of announcements stood at 669 at the end of February, a 77 percent decline from 2,960 recorded during the same period last year.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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