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BOSTON, December 3, 2015 – Lenders filed 1,135 foreclosure petitions in Massachusetts in October, a 17.6 percent increase compared with the 965 filed in October 2014, according to a new report from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

It was the 20th consecutive month of year-over-year double-digit increases in petitions filings. Year to date there have been 9,633 petitions filed, a 50.9 percent increase over the 6,384 filed in the first 10 months of 2014. 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.

While all counties have seen a significant uptick in foreclosure starts this year, the western counties have had the greatest growth when comparing the first 10 months of 2014 and 2015.

Hampshire County has had nearly double the foreclosure petitions in 2015 than it had last year, with 94.4 percent more in 2015 than 2014. Towns like Belchertown, Northampton and Ware each have had double-digit foreclosures petitions and more than 100 percent growth year-over-year.

The eastern and central counties still have by far the highest number of foreclosures – Worcester County leads the pack with 1,774 so far in 2015 – which is to be expected given that the majority of the state’s population lives in those counties.

Tim Warren Jr., CEO of the Warren Group, said that the disparity in the percentage increase in foreclosure starts is puzzling.

“It is generally believed that the rise in foreclosure activity over the past 20 months is due lenders pushing long delinquent loans through the processing pipeline. A ‘go-slow’ policy on foreclosure action was needed to deal with the results of court cases and regulatory changes and now lenders are moving ‘full-steam ahead’,” Warren said. “It seems likely that the central and western counties are seeing more of an uptick than the eastern counties because of weaker economies in those regions. High paying jobs are less common and job growth is less robust. Lower home prices reflect that and probably the greater increase in foreclosure activity does too.

“The economic recovery is coming a little slower to Central and Western Massachusetts.”

Statewide there were 767 foreclosure auctions scheduled in October, a 20.2 percent increase from October 2014, when there were 638 auctions scheduled. Year to date there have been 5,695 auctions scheduled , 28.6 percent more than the 4,444 through the first 10 months of 2014. 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 374 foreclosure deeds recorded in October, an 11.6 percent decrease from the 423 recorded in October 2014. Year to date there have been 3,533 deeds recorded in 2015, a 19.4 percent increase from the 2,960 deeds recorded through October 2014. These deeds represent completed foreclosures, when lenders record a new at the Registry of Deeds indicating there has been a change in the ownership of the foreclosed property.