PORTLAND, Maine — The number of foreclosures by banks chartered in Maine dropped again in 2016, marking a return to levels in place before the Great Recession.

Maine’s Bureau of Financial Institutions reported state-chartered banks initiated 146 foreclosures in 2016, down from 176 the year before and a peak of 375 in 2011.

“Foreclosure activity at Maine’s state-chartered institutions has steadily declined over the past five years and has reached pre-recessionary levels,” at those banks, according to Lloyd LaFountain, superintendent of the bureau.

The bureau reported that measures of potential foreclosures to come have also leveled off, with about 1 percent of the state’s roughly 74,000 mortgage holders behind on payments by less than 90 days. Another 0.57 percent were behind 90 days or more.

Combined, the measure of delinquent mortgages at the end of 2016 was on par with the previous year, at 1.59 percent, and down from 1.87 percent in 2014.

The number of completed foreclosures ticked up during 2016, but the bureau noted that may have been for non-economic reasons. The Legislature passed a law to address concerns raised in a 2014 court ruling that mortgage lenders had called a “crisis.”

[ Maine foreclosures are way down, so why do mortgage lenders say it’s a ‘crisis’?]

The new law validated past transactions that relied on the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, including foreclosures, and assures homeowners clear title, but requires future foreclosures to meet the requirements of the court decision.

The bureau said the uptick in completed foreclosures in 2016 could result from “uncertainties with the foreclosure process that arose in 2014 that may have delayed some foreclosure activity until addressed by the Legislature in 2015.”

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.