BOSTON, April 4, 2017 – Lenders filed 788 petitions to foreclose on properties in Massachusetts in February, a 37.7 percent decrease compared with the 1264 filed in February 2016, according to a new report from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

It was the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year decreases in petitions filings, and the largest year-over-year percentage decrease for any month since February 2014, which registered a 48.7 percent decrease. Petitions are the first entry in the public record in the foreclosure process, when lenders file a notice of intention to foreclose with the Land Court.

“Foreclosure starts are finally in decline as many lenders have cleared their backlogs of delinquent mortgages awaiting foreclosure processing,” said Timothy Warren, CEO of The Warren Group. “We are now seeing declines on both a year-over-year basis and a month-over-month basis.”

Statewide there were 600 foreclosure auctions scheduled in February, a decrease of 6.8 percent increase from February 2016, when there were 644 auctions scheduled. An auction is scheduled through legal advertising in local newspapers with the lender giving the time, date and address for the auction to take place.

There were 479 foreclosure deeds recorded in February, a 7.7 percent decrease from the 519 recorded in February 2016. These deeds represent completed foreclosures, when lenders put the change in ownership of the foreclosed property in the public record at registries of deeds.

“With fewer foreclosures getting started, we now see declines in the later stages of the process,” Warren said. “Both foreclosure auctions and foreclosure deeds fell in February.”