Foreclosures continue to rise

If you go to, the website of the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, it’s fairly easy to calculate how many documents of a particular type of been recorded during a period of time. With the direction of our real estate market so closely linked to the rise and fall of foreclosure activity, here are some statistics for the just-finished month of September:

In the city of Lowell, the number of orders of notice (the document recorded at the start of the foreclosure process) during September 2010 was 75, an increase of 56% from the 48 recorded in September 2009. The number of foreclosure deeds (the document recorded at the end of the foreclosure process) during September 2010 was 29, an increase of 38% from the 21 recorded in September 2009.

For the nine towns in the Middlesex North District (Billerica, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Westford and Wilmington), there were 80 orders of notice in September 2010, an increase of 63% from the 49 recorded in September 2009. As for foreclosure deeds, the 27 recorded in September 2010 were a 125% increase over the 12 recorded in September 2009.

None of these statistics are encouraging. In times of declining home values (as we’re in now), almost every order of notice results in a foreclosure, but that process takes up to another year to finish. That means the increase in orders of notice we see this September will manifest themselves as foreclosure deeds in the coming months. Since every foreclosure tends to drag down the value of that home and every other home in the vicinity, home prices will most likely continue their slow decline putting even more owners in jeopardy. The other thing that’s noteworthy about the September statistics is the increase in suburban foreclosures relative to those in Lowell. Most of the shaky loans in Lowell have already succumbed to the auctioneer; the increase in town activity suggests that many who anchored firmly in the middle class now find their continued home ownership in peril because of any number of adverse circumstances including unemployment, underemployment, divorce or medical problems.