Home foreclosure petitions were up sharply on the Island in 2007 over 2006.
A total of 69 homes were listed for foreclosure by ForeclosuresMass.com, a commonwealth reporting agency, for the 12 months ending Oct. 31, 2007, compared with 41 homes in the same period the year before. Island foreclosures averaged about 30 homes per year between 2003 to 2005, according to the same reporting company.
The numbers are an increase of 67 per cent. The majority of foreclosure notices were in Oak Bluffs, followed by Vineyard Haven, Edgartown and West Tisbury. No foreclosure notices were reported in Aquinnah and Chilmark.
Smaller, single family homes in Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven were cited by Island realtors and lenders last year as hardest hit by the subprime mortgage lending crisis. The vast majority of filings involved homes with 1,500 square feet or less.
Notice to foreclose is the first step in the foreclosure process; a small number of noticed properties actually go to foreclosure.
“I’d be amazed if there were 10 Island foreclosures. We had none,” said Paul Watts, executive vice president of Bank of Martha’s Vineyard.
Historically Nantucket and Dukes counties have fared best among state rates of foreclosure.
Nevertheless, the rate of increase in Dukes County through the first nine months of 2007 nearly kept pace with state figures. Statewide, foreclosures rose 76 per cent through the first three quarters.
As a result of the large increase in foreclosures, Massachusetts has adopted a tougher set of mortgage regulations.
“From a practical standpoint, the regulations don’t affect us, we were operating within the guidelines already,” said Brad Egan, executive vice president of the lending group at Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, a combined institution that recently resulted from the merger of the Dukes County Savings and Martha’s Vineyard Cooperative banks.