Foreclosure Sales and Filings Drop in Chicago Area, but Problems Persist

According to a recently released report from RealtyTrac, there were 6,348 distressed homes - properties in foreclosure or already bank-owned - sold in the Chicago area during the third quarter of 2011. Notably, Cook County saw a 24 percent decrease in Chicago foreclosure sales, with DuPage County experiencing a 15 percent decline compared to the same period last year.

However, although this decrease represents a 19 percent drop from the third quarter the year before, these foreclosure sales still accounted for 17 percent of all home sales in the Chicago area during this period.

Also, even though homeowners in many Chicago areas actually saw a decrease in total foreclosure filings in 2011 - both Cook and DuPage Counties saw drops of 30 percent and 34 percent, respectively, from 2010 - the fourth quarter of 2011 saw an increase of 62 percent in court-ordered auctions from the quarter before, according to another RealtyTrac report. In addition, lender repossessions increased by 11 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same period the year before.

Unfortunately, the drop in foreclosure sales and filings do not necessarily indicate the housing crisis in Chicago is over, as the fourth quarter numbers obviously indicate. In fact, many believe mortgage service companies are already picking up the pace on foreclosure proceedings.

This foreclosure epidemic will persist for some time, and Chicago homeowners need to know there are options available for fighting foreclosures. One option, bankruptcy, will stop foreclosure proceedings and give the homeowner the ability to challenge the bank in court. This process may also give the homeowner time to improve their credit score; and even if they lose to the bank in court, they may be eligible for FHA financing on another more affordable home. Many other options exist, and Chicago homeowners facing foreclosure should review all their options before succumbing to lender demands.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "17% of Chicago-area homes sold in 3Q were in foreclosure," Mary Ellen Podmolik, Jan. 26, 2012

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