Massachusetts foreclosure petitions fell a dramatic 79% annually in April as more banks found alternative solutions to default or simply slowed down the process to comply with new state rules.

The Warren Group, a Massachusetts-based research and publishing firm, made this conclusion after tracking real estate trends in the New England state.

The most recent data shows only 370 foreclosure petitions filed in Massachusetts during the month of April, down from 1,750 petitions a year earlier. 

While some of the drop is inevitably tied to improving real estate trends with median home prices in the state up 11% in 2013, The Warren Group also attributes the excessive decline to foreclosure legislation passed in 2012.

The new rules require banks to inform borrowers of their legal right to a loan modification before a foreclosure can be processed. 

"The real question is whether foreclosure activity will pick back up once lenders have modified their procedures to comply with the new law," Timothy Warren, CEO of The Warren Group said.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com