AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – This past June, Massachusetts foreclosure petitions were down more than 18 percent compared to last year.

This past June, Massachusetts saw its first year-over-year decrease in foreclosure petitions since 2013, according to The Warren Group.

Petitions are the first step in the foreclosure process. Year to date, the state has seen nearly 58-hundred total petitions filed, which is down 12.6 percent from the 66-hundred filed over the first six months of 2016.

Hampden County Register of Deed Donald Ashe told 22News that banks are working more with homeowners who are having problems making their mortgage payments decreasing the amount of foreclosures seen in Massachusetts.Ashe also said that if banks continue to modify mortgage payments for struggling homeowners, foreclosures will continue to decrease in Massachusetts.

According to the Warren Group, rising house prices have helped with keeping new foreclosure starts at bay.

“Now with the prices escalating, and the value of real estate going up some people can re-afford it and the banks are looking at that positively,” said Richard Sawicki, owner of Sawicki Real Estate. “Going forward we see that it’s all good things about real estate and people can afford to stay in their homes.”

Statewide there were 711 foreclosure auctions scheduled in June; a nearly 20 percent decrease from June of 2016, when 887 auctions where scheduled.

Year to date auctions on foreclosed homes in Massachusetts are down by 18.3 percent.

Sawicki encourages struggling homeowners to communicate and work with their bank. He said just because Banks are being more lenient, that doesn’t mean you are entirely safe from losing your home.