Foreclosure completions may be down substantially on the national stage, but it's a bit of a different story for starts, particularly at the state level. Case in point: Massachusetts, where petitions soared in December, based on newly released statistics compiled by real estate agency The Warren Group.
In the Bay State during the last month of 2015, lenders filed over 1,2000 foreclosure petitions to the Massachusetts Land Court due to homeowners' failure to keep up with their mortgage payments, The Warren Group reported. That's up by over 118 percent on a year-over-year basis, as 561 were filled out during the same month in 2014.
22 months in a row of double-digit, year-over-year increases
It's now been almost two full years that foreclosure starts have not only increased with each passing month, but by double digits from the corresponding period one year prior, according to the Boston-based financial firm's analysis. On the bright side, however, distressed property petitions in the Bay State are a far cry from where they used to be during the height of the housing crisis. As an example, eight years ago, north of 2,700 foreclosure petitions were submitted to the Massachusetts Land Court.
Still, the trend seems to be going in the wrong direction. Last year, over 11,750 petitions were filed due to mortgage delinquency in Massachusetts. In 2014, just under 7,600 were filled out statewide.
Tim Warren, CEO of The Warren Group, noted that mortgage firms have had a backlog of foreclosure filings for some time now, and have finally decided to push them through the pipeline in light of favorable market forces.
"Lenders are pushing more foreclosures through the system now that they're both comfortable with the state's regulations and feel they may be able to resell these properties at a good price," Warren explained.
He added that while the surge in foreclosure starts may have some believing that the residential real estate environment is in jeopardy, several of the delinquencies are old loans that just haven't been cleared. In other words, most aren't newly defaulted loans.
Most states' foreclosure inventory rate at 1 percent
Evidence of this is the national foreclosure inventory picture. As of December, not a single state has a foreclosure supply of more than 4 percent of mortgage properties, according to real estate analytics firm CoreLogic. In Massachusetts, the rate is 1.3 percent. New York has the highest supply of foreclosed properties at 3.5 percent.