Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has ordered state banking regulators to seek delays of up to two months on foreclosures against homeowners who have filed complaints with the Division of Banks.The move makes the commonwealth the first state in the country to place a moratorium on repossession proceedings, but it is not unprecedented. Years ago, shortly before adjustable-rate mortgages were approved by federal authorities, states held sway over institutions in their jurisdictions that made what were then known an variable-rate mortgages. And one, Wisconsin, refused to allow lenders to reset loans to higher levels when the market rate moved into double-digit territory. This time around, housing advocates say they expect Gov. Patrick's action to set the pattern for other states. "We will bring the Massachusetts standard nationwide," Bruce Marks, head of Neighborhood Assistance of America, told the Boston Herald. The governor said in a statement that stays would be sought on a case-by-case basis, but Mr. Marks indicated that his group would assist owners who are struggling to make their payments in filing complaints with the state. "It is effectively a moratorium of foreclosures in Massachusetts," he is quoted as saying. "It is a very big deal."

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