Property foreclosures in Massachusetts were 63 percent higher in a March report than they were two years ago, according to data released this week, as more of the nation’s housing markets cool from record highs.

“February 2006, the shortest month of the year, produced more foreclosure filings than any other month in the past three years,” said Jeremy Shapiro, president and co-founder of ForeclosuresMass, a provider of foreclosure data for investors, real estate professionals and mortgage brokers. “There is no question that higher interest rates, spiraling property values, a flat economy and a myriad of other factors are combining to make 2006 another difficult year for homeowners.”

Foreclosures were filed on 1,200 Massachusetts properties in February 2006, 63.3 percent more than February 2004, and 25.4 percent more than February 2005, according to the report.

A 12-month trend comparison of March 1, 2005 to Feb. 28, 2006 and March 1, 2004 to Feb. 28, 2005 showed:

–Foreclosures increased statewide 31.4 percent (representing 11,892 foreclosures, up from 9,054);

–Three counties experienced at least 50 percent increases, including Barnstable (51 percent), Essex (50.99 percent) and Nantucket (50 percent);

–In towns/cities with 10-49 foreclosures, the biggest increases were in Avon (267 percent), Harwich (250 percent), Rockport (217 percent), Hampden (200 percent), and Manchester (200 percent);

–In towns/cities with 50 or more foreclosures, the biggest increases were in Lawrence (116 percent), Marshfield (110 percent), Sandwich (89 percent), Wareham (81 percent) and Fall River (78 percent).

Comparing February 2006 to January 2006:

–Foreclosures increased 11.63 percent statewide in one month with 1,200 filed in February compared to 1,075 filed in January;

–Plymouth County saw a one-month leap of 34 percent;

–Middlesex County foreclosures also climbed by nearly 30 percent in one month.

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