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Mass. Foreclosure Petitions Drop, Deeds Rise In Early 2010

Massachusetts foreclosure petitions dropped 6.1 percent over the first two months of the year, compared to the same period in 2009, according to new numbers released by The Warren Group Thursday.

A petition represents the first step in the foreclosure process. Foreclosure deeds — the last steps, which indicate completed foreclosures — rose 13.8 percent during the same time.

"It's a little bit of a mixed bag," said the group's CEO, Timothy Warren, of the numbers taken together.

Warren added that the number of petitions is a better leading indicator of the housing market's direction, but again there are mixed results. Though petitions dropped compared to the first two months of 2009, they rose in February by 13 percent over January's figures — a "two steps forward, one step back" situation.

"People are still having trouble paying the mortgages," Warren said. He noted that foreclosed properties can also push housing prices down, putting even more homeowners underwater.

But that cycle of decline could be broken by public perception that home prices — especially those in neighborhoods with many foreclosures and a sense of stagnation — are trending upwards.

"A rising tide lifts all ships," Warren said. "If the sense of the consumer is that real estate prices are rising, prices will eventually rise in all neighborhoods."

This program aired on March 25, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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