By Herald Staff

In August, lenders completed 566 foreclosures in Massachusetts — the lowest monthly level recorded so far this year, according to real estate industry tracker The Warren Group.

The figures mark the third consecutive month of year-over-year foreclosure deed decreases and the lowest number of completed foreclosures in any month since February 2011, when there were 521 foreclosure deeds statewide.Foreclosure deeds dropped 40 percent to 566 from 947 in August 2011.

A total of 5,975 foreclosure deeds have been filed so far this year, an 8.4 percent increase compared to 5,511 deeds recorded during the same period last year.

Last year, however, banks nearly halted foreclosure proceedings due to legal challenges, so the lower number of foreclosures was not the result of market forces.

Year-over-year foreclosure petitions – the beginning of the process — rose in August, increasing 4.2 percent to 1,456 from 1,397 in August 2011. Petitions have increased every month so far this year, except in July when starts dropped 16.8 percent year-over-year. A total of 12,079 foreclosure petitions have been initiated so far this year, up 46 percent from 8,253 petitions filed the same period last year.

But the number of auction announcements tracked by The Warren Group decreased in August.

Auction announcements declined 18 percent to 1,084 from 1,329 in August 2011. From January through August, 10,384 auctions have been announced, a 9.2 percent decline from 11,436 auctions during the same period in 2011.

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