Lenders initiated 1,198 foreclosure proceedings in Massachusetts in July, the lowest monthly level recorded so far this year, the Warren Group said Monday.
The number of starts fell nearly 17 percent when compared with the total from July 2011, said the Warren Group, a Boston firm that tracks real estate data.
“It appears there is a downward trend in foreclosure activity,” Warren Group chief executive Timothy M. Warren Jr. said in a statement. “A strong economy and recovering housing market is helping lift consumer confidence. This news paired with banks’ return to standard foreclosure processes is also helping.”
Foreclosure deeds, the last step in the foreclosure process, also dropped about 17 percent in July on a year-to-year comparison basis; there were 648 foreclosures in July 2012, the Warren Group said. That number is the fewest for any month this year, and July 2012 was the slowest month since May 2011, according to the Warren Group.
“Foreclosure activity has been fluctuating for the past year or so - slowing after several banks delayed and examined their own proceedings, and then ramping back up,” Timothy Warren said. “It appears we’re seeing a clearer picture now - less starts and deeds which means homeowners are making payments and working out defaults through short sales and loan modifications.”
The slowdown in foreclosure activity follows a surge this year as lenders accelerated the pace of seizing properties that had long been in mortgage default.
The jump in activity had followed a slowdown in property seizures last year that was caused by allegations of fraudulent and sloppy slopping legal practices.
Chris Reidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.