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What’s Keeping Foreclosures at Bay?

The tiny state of Massachusetts, particularly around Cape Cod, could be a solid microcosm for the state of foreclosures in late 2017. A recent report by the Cape Cod Times found that a sellers’ market on the island has driven foreclosure activity down for the first time in four years.

According to the Boston-based Warren Group, foreclosure petitions in June dropped 20 percent compared to the year earlier. In Barnstable County, home of Cape Cod, petitions dropped 11 percent in the first half of 2017, compared to the first half of 2016. Statewide, petitions filed through June and were down 12.6 percent compared to a year ago.

These numbers could be the offshoot of a market in high demand and with high sales prices. According to the Cape Cod and the Islands Association of Realtors, the median price of single-family homes hit $400,000 on Cape Cod. That’s up from $383,000 a year earlier, although down from May’s $417,000.

Still, sales are moving quickly, creating a high-octane seller’s market that naturally circumvents foreclosure petitions: houses are selling so fast, owners are able to offload distressed properties without having to go to the courts, the Times reported.

While petitions on Cape Cod in 2017 are not at the record lows they hit in 2013, they are, according to the Times, still far lower than their 2010 peak. It turns out, until now, 2013 was the only post-recession year when foreclosure petitions went down. The difference is that in 2013, the market was still depressed and banks had already gobbled up a lot of distressed properties.

Timothy Warren Jr., CEO of the Warren Group, told the Times that Barnstable County still has plenty of foreclosures on the books, but the Warren Group also found that foreclosure auctions dropped on both a state and local level by 18 percent. However, the filing of foreclosure deeds was up statewide nearly 7 percent in the state and up 300 percent on the Cape‒‒ a sign, the Times wrote, “that the backlog of auctions was continuing to be resolved.”

One of the reasons distressed properties are attractive, the article stated, was that on the Cape in particular, homes that would otherwise be foreclosed are essentially move-in ready.

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