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BOSTON, May 8, 2014 – Foreclosure petitions in the Bay State took a sharp turn upward in March, posting a 133.2 percent increase compared with March 2013, according to a new report from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman. The increase ended 16 consecutive months of decline in petition filings. Petitions to foreclose mark the first step in the process.

Lenders filed 660 petitions to foreclose in March compared with 283 filings this time last year. March also marked the highest number of petitions filed since February 2013 when 856 petitions were recorded. The first quarter of this year posted a 29.4 percent decrease from the first quarter of last year. A total of 1,463 petitions were filed in the first three months of the year compared with 2,073 petitions filed in the first quarter of last year.

MAForeclosurechart“With much of the foreclosure crisis behind us and foreclosure procedures well documented, lenders may be getting more aggressive with delinquent borrowers,” said Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of The Warren Group. “The number of foreclosure starts in March may seem as though the floodgates were opened, but the number is nowhere near the levels reported during the recession.”

Despite the increase in petitions, foreclosure deeds reported a 15.3 percent decrease in March with 194 deeds filed compared with 229 filings in March 2013. This month’s filings were the lowest of the year so far. A total of 754 deeds were filed in the first quarter of this year, a 1.2 percent decrease from the 763 deeds filed in the first quarter of last year. Deeds represent completed foreclosures.

The number of auction announcements tracked by The Warren Group fell in March compared with a year earlier. There were 303 auction announcements were filed, a 23.8 percent decrease from the 398 announcements filed at the same time last year. The first quarter of this year also saw a decrease of 41.8 percent in auction filings with 641 auction announcements recorded compared with 1,102 in the first quarter of last year.