The Warren Group does a knock-out job of providing data on the local real estate market.

Earlier today, they released foreclosure deeds information for 2007, for both the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts and (for me, alone) within the City of Boston.

How does 2007 compare to earlier years, especially the period 1991-1994, the last time Boston endured a housing “crisis”?

For starters, here is foreclosure deeds data from the years 1990 – 2002, as reported by The Boston Foundation (TBF) as part of their “Boston Indicators Project”.

Year — # of foreclosure deeds, entire city

1989 — 126
1990 — 379
1991 — 1,149
1992 — 1,914
1993 — 1,450
1994 — 1,126
1995 — 646
1996 — 614
1997 — 266
1998 — 210
1999 — 177
2000 — 75
2001 — 32
2002 — 32

You have to love this paragraph in The Boston Foundation’s 2002 report:

Mortgage foreclosures represent less than 1% of all residential real estate sales, down from 40% of residential real estate sales in 1992.

Unlike the recession of the early 1990s when mortgage foreclosures reached unprecedented highs, foreclosures since 2000 have been a small percentage of total residential sales in Boston.

From 2000 to mid-2002 there have been 139 foreclosures on one-, two-, and three-families and condominiums out of 17,841 total sales. This represents a 96% decrease in foreclosures from 1990 to 1992 when there were 3,442.

What account for this decline even in difficult economic times?

The housing bubble of the late 1980s was fueled by highly speculative mortgages. After the savings and loans banking crisis of the 1990s, there have been better lending practices instituted, better informed first-time homebuyers educated through home buying classes, a decrease in mortgage rates, and a recession that has been more detrimental to higher wage earners to date.

All of these factors have been instrumental in keeping foreclosures low.

Also, foreclosure counseling expertise is available for those with financial difficulties.

Here’s the data for “Foreclosure Petitions” for the years 2003 – 2006 (don’t forget, petitions to foreclose are the first step in the foreclosure process; it’s when the bank tells you that you’re behind on your loan, you still have time to save your home):

Foreclosure Petitions, Petitions as Percent of Housing

Neighborhood — 2003 — 2004 — 2005 — 2006 — percentage

Allston/Brighton — 14 — 21 — 18 — 46 — 0.15%
Back Bay/Beacon Hill — 8 — 11 — 6 — 20 — 0.11%
Central — 5 — 4 — 6 — 16 — 0.12%
Charlestown — 9 — 12 — 12 — 21 — 0.27%
Dorchester — 67 — 118 — 165 — 430 — 1.30%
East Boston — 15 — 15 — 23 — 64 — 0.42%
Fenway/Kenmore — 4 — 4 — 3 — 8 — 0.06%
Hyde Park — 26 — 33 — 71 — 200 — 1.68%
Jamaica Plain — 10 — 10 — 20 — 56 — 0.35%
Mattapan — 41 — 42 — 76 — 190 — 1.45%
Roslindale — 17 — 22 — 26 — 99 — 0.75%
Roxbury — 65 — 47 — 102 — 283 — 1.26%
South Boston — 17 — 18 — 28 — 60 — 0.42%
South End — 11 — 13 — 19 — 25 — 0.16%
West Roxbury — 12 — 15 — 16 — 67 — 0.54%

Boston Total — 321 — 385 — 591 — 1585 — 0.63%

And, in 2007?

Here is foreclosures deeds information for 2007, as reported earlier on this site:

Boston Neighborhood — #FDs-2006 — #FDs-2007 — %Change

Allston — 2 — 3 — 50.00%
Brighton — 3 — 11 — 266.67%
Boston-Downtown — 11 — 22 — 100.00%
Charlestown — 3 — 4 — 33.33%
Dorchester — 131 — 364 — 177.86%
East Boston — 22 — 49 — 122.73%
Hyde Park — 24 — 58 — 141.67%
Jamaica Plain — 7 — 19 — 171.43%
Mattapan — 37 — 71 — 91.89%
Roslindale — 9 — 36 — 300.00%
Roxbury — 22 — 58 — 163.64%
South Boston — 12 — 29 — 141.67%
West Roxbury — 5 — 18 — 260.00%

All of Boston — 288 — 742 — 157.64%

There are approximately 252,000 units of housing in Boston, according to the 2005 US Census. We haven’t had much of an increase in units, even after accounting for the massive number of units added due to new construction. Those were a drop in the bucket compared to what was already out there. Plus, many of the new condo units were originally rental units in three-deckers that were fixed and flipped – these don’t add to the total.

So, in 2007, there were 742 foreclosure deeds (banks taking ownership). There were 252,000 units of housing. Meaning, .294% of homes were lost, in 2007.

Final petitions to foreclose data for 2007 has not yet been released; November’s data should be available at the end of this week, then December, several weeks thereafter.

Thanks to Katie Curnette at The Warren Group for collecting some of this data for me.

Source: Boston Indicators Project 2006, quoting The Warren Group
Also: Boston Indicators Project 2002

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