Boston Foreclosure Homes Surge in Affluent Neighborhoods

by Simon Lindsay on Foreclosure Crisis

Boston foreclosure homes are surging in affluent neighborhoods as more businesses fail and more residents lose their jobs, based on reports released by New England research firm Warren Group.

In Norfolk County, petitions for foreclosure soared year-over-year by 33.5 percent in 2009. In Middlesex County, filings jumped up by over 23 percent over the same one-year period.

The rate of increase was even higher in Greater Lowell, where the combined number of default notices and foreclosed houses for sale increased by 500 percent in January 2010 year-over-year.

According to Dave Turcotte, head of the University of Massachusetts Institute for Housing Sustainability in Lowell, there are a lot of Lowell zip codes where all mortgaged homes are drowned in negative equity.

Even in Dover, where foreclosure has not been heard of in decades and where only five filings were posted when the crisis started in 2008, the claws of foreclosure sharpened and tripled the 2008 figure to 17 filings.

In the western suburbs of Boston, a number of wealthy households succumbed to the crisis. Foreclosure petitions in Concord rose by 20 percent to 18 in 2009 and petitions in Lincoln jumped up from zero level in 2008 to 5 petitions in 2009. Carlisle posted the highest increase rate of 266 percent when petitions increased to 11 filings in 2009.

While wealthier towns are contributing rising numbers to listings of Boston foreclosure homes, the pace of Massachusetts foreclosures have been declining. In January, foreclosure filings statewide fell to 1,874, the lowest number in more than 12 months. The filings marked a 9-percent drop from 2,060 foreclosures filed in December last year and a 4.4-percent decrease from January 2009.

Actual foreclosures, however, increased statewide in January this year. A total of 1,061 homes were foreclosed upon, a jump from the 978 homes repossessed in January 2009 and the 857 units foreclosed upon in December. The foreclosure deeds marked the highest January figure recorded by Warren Group since it started tracking foreclosures in Massachusetts in 2006.

According to Turcotte, most foreclosure studies have focused on the impact of the crisis on immigrants and minorities because they are deemed to be the most vulnerable.

But senior citizens are also vulnerable, as shown in the increasing number of retirees struggling from foreclosures. The Bairds who are in their 80s and who have defaulted on their almost $1 million loan are likely to lose their home to listings of Boston foreclosure homes.

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