BOSTON, August 31, 2011 – More than 1,400 foreclosures were initiated in Massachusetts in July – the highest monthly level recorded so far this year, according to The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

Year-over-year petitions were down in July, dropping to 1,441 – a 38 percent decline from 2,307 in July 2010. Still, July marks the highest number of foreclosure starts since September, when there were 2,358 petitions filed. A total of 6,856 foreclosure petitions have been initiated so far this year, down 56 percent from 15,645 petitions filed the same period last year.

“The foreclosure process is showing signs of acceleration. For the past two months, foreclosure petitions have markedly increased which proves that lenders are beginning to act more swiftly,” said Banker & Tradesman Managing Editor Cory S. Hopkins. “Despite the drop in foreclosures from a year ago, homeowners are still struggling. A weakened housing market and poor economy does not bode well for consumer confidence.”

Foreclosure deeds also dropped to 775 in July, a 38 percent decrease from 1,247 in July 2010. A total of 4,530 foreclosure deeds have been filed so far this year, a 48 percent decrease compared to 8,680 deeds recorded during the same period last year.

“While some feared there would be a surge in foreclosures following several banks delaying and examining their own proceedings, it doesn’t appear that completed foreclosures are climbing at a rapid pace,” Hopkins said. “In fact, foreclosure deeds are down from a month ago which may mean more distressed homeowners are working out alternatives to foreclosure, either through short sales or loan modifications.”

The number of auction announcements tracked by The Warren Group decreased in July. Auction announcements declined 26 percent to 1,319 from 1,788 in July 2010. From January through July, 10,107 auctions have been announced, a 45 percent decline from 18,468 auctions during the same period in 2010.