Citing ‘human error,’ Warren Group says more foreclosures were started in September, not fewer as it first reported

The Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks local real estate, said Friday that because of ”human error,” it mistakenly reported that fewer foreclosures were begun in September when the number actually rose significantly statewide.

In issuing a correction, Timothy M. Warren, chief executive of the Warren Group, said it’s the only data error the 140-year-old business has made in at least two decades.

According to the revised figures, foreclosure petitions — the first step in the property seizure process — increased to 1,420 in September, 22 percent more than during the same period last year.

In late October, the Warren Group erroneously said foreclosure starts statewide dropped to 973 in September, a 16.4 percent decline from that month in 2011, and the first time this year that the monthly figure had fallen below 1,000. Those numbers were reported by the Globe and other media outlets.

At the time, Warren said the decline in foreclosure petitions was a “strong indicator of a housing market recovery” in Massachusetts.

Friday, Warren said the problem with the September report occurred when a staff member calculated the final foreclosure numbers for the month before all the data had been collected from Land Court in Boston.

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