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Mass. Foreclosures Fall In 2009, But More Trouble Looms

This article is more than 10 years old.
Groups of homeowners attend a news conference on home foreclosures on Dec. 14, 2009, near the Treasury Department in Washington. (AP)
Groups of homeowners attend a news conference on home foreclosures on Dec. 14, 2009, near the Treasury Department in Washington. (AP)

A new report from The Warren Group offers mixed news on foreclosures in Massachusetts.

The number of completed foreclosures decreased 25 percent in 2009, compared to 2008, but foreclosure petitions rose 28 percent.

Vincent Valvo, the publisher at the Boston Boston-based real estate tracking firm, described it as "the eye of the storm."

"We have a good news-bad news situation," Valvo said Thursday.

"The populace is under tremendous financial stress and dealing with extraordinary high housing costs. That is a scenario for lots of people losing their homes. We are going to see a lot more of that happening in 2010."

Valvo said the rise in foreclosure petitions — the first step in the foreclosure process — is dramatic.

"For anyone who was hoping that we had a respite here from the foreclosure crisis, I think those numbers clearly are showing that we are not." He attributed the drop in completed foreclosures to a number of technical issues that delay the process.

The bottom line, Valvo said: "The overall appetite for lenders to continue to foreclose homes has not abated at all."

And Valvo predicts more bad news ahead.

"Coming out of this lull — the eye of the hurricane — the second half of the hurricane is going to be as bad, or worse, than the first half," Valvo said. Rising unemployment levels will exacerbate the foreclosure crisis, he said.

While Congress has taken access to delay foreclosures for a time, Valvo said that the root of the problem has never been addressed.

"(We have) never really come to grips with the scope of what we're dealing with," Valvo said. "Nothing we have done has addressed the underlying problem that people are in homes that are too expensive. They bought on the brink, and they have fallen over the brink."

For Valvo, the solution is simple but unpalatable.

"The only fix that is going to work is for the government to pay these mortgages for these people, but I don't think there is any real political desire or actual initiative to literally pay off mortgages who for people couldn't afford them in the first place."

This program aired on January 21, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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