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BOSTON, March 21, 2012 – Foreclosure starts in Massachusetts more than doubled in February, rising to 1,394 from 694 during the same month last year, according to the latest report from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

Foreclosures activity was significantly slower in 2011 due to several factors. A national foreclosure suit against lenders coupled with a new law extending the right-to-cure period to 150 days caused for a major slowdown in foreclosure activity.

Despite the significant year-over-year increase, monthly foreclosure activity was slower than in years past. By contrast, more than 2,000 foreclosure petitions were filed in February 2010 and 2009. Foreclosure petitions – the first step in the foreclosure process in Massachusetts – was nearly unchanged from a month earlier when there were 1,333 starts.

“The large year-over-year increase doesn’t necessarily indicate another wave of foreclosures,” said Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of The Warren Group. “Foreclosure activity was nearly frozen a year ago and now they’re beginning to thaw again.”

In February, 736 foreclosure deeds were filed statewide, up 41 percent from 521 in February 2011. Foreclosure deeds represent completed foreclosures. Year-to-date foreclosure deeds also increased 33 percent. A total of 1,398 deeds have been filed so far this year, compared to 1,050 during the same period in 2011.

Year-to-date foreclosure petitions are up 83 percent to 2,727 from 1,487 during the first two months in 2011.

The Warren Group also tracked an increase in auction announcements in February. A total of 1,315 auctions were announced last month, a near 48 percent increase from 889 in February 2011. Year-to-date announcements totaled 2,891 – a 42 percent increase from 2,039 during the same period last year.