For Immediate Release - January 07, 2009

Division of Banks Makes Web-Based Foreclosure Database Available to Public

BOSTON - January 7, 2009 - In keeping with the Patrick-Murray Administration's multi-faceted response to the foreclosure crisis, the Division of Banks (Division) today opened its online database of Massachusetts foreclosure notices to the general public. The web-based resource, available at www.mass.gov/dob, allows the Division to study trends and better focus foreclosure examination efforts.

The Division opened the database to local public safety and code enforcement officials several weeks ago, enabling municipalities to better respond to public safety hazards associated with vacant foreclosed properties. To date, public officials in 122 cities and towns have registered for the database.

By providing public access to the database, anyone with an interest in tracking and understanding foreclosure trends in their neighborhood can now do so at the tip of their fingers. Community organizations and regional housing agencies will be able to use the tracking feature to better focus their relief efforts or to study trends and allocate their funds accordingly.

"Having a centralized database of foreclosure sales adds to our pool of resources, strengthening and supporting our tailored response to foreclosures and helping us to create a better housing market for the future," said Commissioner of Banks Steven L. Antonakes. "Opening the database to the public will allow community organizations to target their efforts in much the same way."

"This database is a significant new tool for local fire and other public safety officials. It allows them to be proactive in identifying properties that may be vacant, in distress or a target for arson and insurance fraud in their community," said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. "These properties not only pose a safety risk to the public at large but are extremely dangerous to responding firefighters. On average one firefighter is injured at every six vacant building fires."

Under Chapter 206, An Act Protecting and Preserving Home Ownership, which was signed by Governor Patrick in November 2007, the regulatory oversight of the non-bank mortgage industry was significantly increased. Among other things, Chapter 206 mandates the development of a statewide foreclosure tracking database. All mortgage holders are now required to electronically file foreclosure petitions and records of sales involving one-to-four family, owner-occupied properties with the Division. The electronic submissions allow the Division to efficiently process and maintain this information in a web-based database, making select foreclosure property information easily available to members of the public who register to access it.

The Division can now closely monitor trends among brokers and lenders whose loans have high frequencies of foreclosure. The database is also built with a functionality to track the entities responsible for maintaining foreclosed properties. The database lists the foreclosures throughout the state line-by-line and includes the amount and date of the sale, community and foreclosing entity. To protect the privacy of the individuals and families whose homes are in foreclosure, the database will not make consumer names or property addresses available to the general public.

Massachusetts has led the nation in its comprehensive response to the housing crisis. Chapter 206 is among the strongest foreclosure prevention laws in the country. In addition to creating the foreclosure database, the statute includes a new licensing requirement for mortgage originators, the fees of which have funded a statewide foreclosure prevention counseling program. It also includes a 90 day right-to-cure provision for delinquent homeowners. And to encourage lenders to make good use of this time, the Division has issued regulations to evaluate all state-licensed mortgage lenders based on the pace and number of loan modifications they complete for delinquent borrowers seeking help.

More information on the Patrick-Murray Administration's foreclosure prevention initiatives can be found online at www.mass.gov/foreclosure.