BOSTON -- When lawyer Neal Weinstock goes to parties these days and someone asks the Wellesley real estate specialist what he does for a living, he tells them, "I used to do closings. Now I do foreclosings."

As the downward slide in the New England economy takes the real estate market down with it, one number that is going up is foreclosures.

Developers and real estate entrepreneurs with unsold property are running out of money to pay off their loans. Homeowners suddenly out of work or overstretched can't make the monthly mortgage payments.

The state Land Court in Boston handles about 65 percent of the foreclosure filings in the state.

Charles Trombly, recorder of the Land Court, said far more foreclosures are sought than ever go through. The bitter end often is averted when the lender and the borrower make new arrangements.

Even so, the numbers are doubling at both ends.

In 1989 there were 1,402 approved foreclosure sales, up from 546 the year before. In 1987 there were 250 foreclosures.

In fiscal 1988, the court received 5,977 foreclosure filings. In the last fiscal year there were 11,602 filings.

This year is expected to top last year, with filings averaging 1,500 a month, he said.

The court does not record foreclosures by category, such as a single-family home, residential tract or condominium development.

But, Trombly said, "a lot of these are single-family homes. A lot of it is developers. An awful lot of it is condos."

Weinstock, the Wellesley real estate attorney, described the foreclosure situation as a story in two parts.

"My sense is the first flow of foreclosures, maybe within the past year and a half, were not so much the individual homeowner types," Weinstock said. Instead, it was the entrepreneurs, the developers and their investors, with too much unsold property on their hands and too few resources to pay their loans.

"Part Two is where you're seeing some of the residences in trouble, prompted by loss of job and the like. You now have costs going up, income either not coming in or stagnant and people can't make their mortgage payments," Weinstock said. "So you are seeing the early throes of residential foreclosures."

Robert Eisenberg, president of New England Financial Resources in Boston, is in the business of helping banks manage their debts and assets.

"Last year a number of the troubled real estate properties were principally for condominium projects or developments," Eisenberg said.

"What we're seeing now is the real estate market has softened across the board. We're starting to see difficulty not only with real estate {but also} softening generally in the corporate sector," he said.

The foreclosed office buildings, shopping centers and recreational properties are being joined by factories, warehouses and the like, he said.

Boston auctioneer Barton K. Hyte is near the end of the line in the foreclosure business.

The losers, he said, are "a lot of people who bought condos and single-family houses at the top of the market. A lot of people are walking away. They can't afford it anymore."

A typical scenario he described is the young two-career couple who bought a house in recent years in the $200,000 to $250,000 range. Eventually, the wife becomes pregnant or one of them loses their job. They can't make the payments, but neither can they sell the house in a glutted market, so the lender closes in. Unless a deal is worked out, the home goes on the block.

In most instances the "buyer" is the bank that loaned the money in the first place.

"As one lawyer who deals in bank foreclosures said, most foreclosure sales are between the auctioneer, the bank representative and three squirrels," said Franklin Tucker, senior writer at Banker & Tradesman, a weekly publication covering the real estate, banking and commercial property business.

Just five years ago, Hyte's company handled at most two foreclosure auctions a week. One day this past week they did five and by the end of the week will have brought down the gavel on 22 foreclosed properties.

"I don't see it getting better," he said, though he did offer a brighter perspective. "Investors that are sharp are starting to buy, there are a lot of deals out there."