By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor
The summer brought both good news and bad news for the Massachusetts housing market. First, the bad news: foreclosure petitions in the state rose for the second consecutive month in July, the Warren Group, a Boston-based real estate and financial information company, reported last week. More than 1,400 homeowners received foreclosure petitions during the month, a sign that lenders are focusing more on taking back their properties. A small silver lining is that foreclosure petitions fell 38 percent compared to July 2010, when 2,307 foreclosure petitions were filed.
Cory S. Hopkins, managing editor for Warren Group’s Banker & Tradesman, told the Boston Globe that the foreclosure process is showing signs of acceleration even as homeowners are still struggling to keep their properties. The number of completed foreclosures dropped to 775 in July, a 38 percent decrease from the same period in 2010. Year to date, foreclosures have decreased 48 percent compared to the same time last year. Paul S. Wilson, senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, speculates that seizures are taking longer for creditors to complete because of legal issues as well as state regulations intended to protect homeowners and to encourage lenders to re-negotiate loan terms.
One bright spot was the 2.4 percent increase in housing prices from May to June, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. That is a marked improvement compared to 2011, when home values dropped 2.1 percent for that period. Karl Case, an economist and the index’s co-founder, told the Globe that Boston continues to have one of the nation’s strongest housing markets.