The state of Massachusetts continues to benefit from rising home prices and foreclosure prevention efforts – two factors that caused foreclosure activity in the New England state to plummet 82% year-over-year in March, according to data from publisher The Warren Group.

The latest statistics show lenders filed 284 foreclosure petitions in March, an 82% decline from 1,621 petitions in 2012.

In just the first quarter, the state recorded 2,080 petitions to foreclose, down 52% from 4,348 a year earlier.

Petitions to foreclose are the first step in the process of foreclosing on a property.

"Overall, we’re seeing foreclosures drop all over the country, but Massachusetts is exceptional in its reduction," said Timothy Warren, CEO of The Warren Group in a press statement. 

"The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that we rank 48th in foreclosures started in the first quarter of 2013. Foreclosure prevention efforts combined with a booming real estate market are leading to fewer foreclosures."

Foreclosure deeds, which signify a completed foreclosure, also fell 74% to 227 in March, down from 899 filings in March 2012.

Auction announcements also plummeted, The Warren Group added, with 398 foreclosure auction announcements in March—a 67% decline from 1,214 announcements a year earlier.

The first three months of the year brought 1,102 foreclosure auction announcements, down 73% from 4,174 during the same period of 2012.

The decline in foreclosure activity first picked up last summer when new foreclosure requirements in Massachusetts stalled activity as banks faced new rules from the national mortgage servicing settlement as well as a state law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick in August.

Those two trends set Massachusetts on track to experience falling foreclosure filings—a development aided by rising prices in the state, which helped homeowners gain equity.