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Massachusetts foreclosure petition filings continue to decline

According to recent data, the number of foreclosures in Massachusetts may be declining.

Compared to last year, the number of foreclosure petitions filed in February of this year was down 48.7 percent. In fact, monthly foreclosure petitions have been less than their previous year’s counterpart for 16 consecutive months. Commentators credit improvements in the housing market and the economy.

However, a real estate attorney knows that a foreclosure petition does not always end in actual foreclosure. According to the same report, the number of foreclosure deeds filed in Massachusetts in February 2014 was actually 16.2 percent higher than last year. However, given that the foreclosure process can take many months or even longer than a year, the data does not necessarily contradict commentators who believe the foreclosure crisis is over. 

Between the filing of the petition and the actual foreclosure deed, many intervening events can occur. For example, owners may attempt to refinance their mortgage. For residential homeowners, there may be options under the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program. 

With the help of an attorney, owners may also be able to negotiate alternatives to foreclosure. An attorney may be able to help business owners restructure commercial real estate loans, or help business and residential owners alike explore other mortgage financing options. An attorney can explain the differences between loan modifications, forbearance agreements, and repayment plans.

In exploring foreclosure alternatives, negotiating leverage may hinge upon an individual’s expected cash flow. In that regard, an attorney can also help owners understand how a particular option may affect the existing loan and their overall financial health. 

Source: Boston Globe, “Fewer foreclosure petitions filed in February,” Chris Reidy, April 1, 2014

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