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Illinois Foreclosures are Down! Or Up!


"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." -- Mark Twain (or possibly Benjamin Disraeli)

Today, I found two different articles about the rate of foreclosure activity in Illinois. According to WBEZ, foreclosure filings and related activity are up. According to RealtyTrac's figures, foreclosure filings increased by 22.6% between December 2012 and January 2013. 

However, according to Chicago Real Estate Daily, foreclosures are down. How is this possible? When you compare foreclosures in January 2012 to January 2013, filings are down overall. However, when you compare December 2012 to January 2013, activity is up. Perhaps Twain was right. 

NPR recently ran a segment about Florida's foreclosure crisis. In that segment, a credit union official blamed foreclosure defense lawyers for the prolonged foreclosure crisis. Much like the duelling stats above, this is a matter of perception. 

States that have a judicial process for handling foreclosure matters will have longer foreclosure timelines than states with a non-judicial process. This is because litigation takes time -- even when a case is not defended by a homeowner. However, providing people with the ability to defend themselves in a foreclosure context is highly important. Given what we've seen with shoddy documentation, force-placed insurance, banks foreclosing on the wrong homes, etc., having a judicial process in place tends to protect homeowners more than it harms them. 

This is a good thing. 

The reality in Illinois is that we have a lot of foreclosures to go before the crisis ends. Does this mean that the housing market isn't recovering? Not at all. What it means is that we may see property values dip in areas where the most foreclosure activity occurs. It also means that we likely won't see a full recovery for quite some time. Without better methods for measuring factors like delinquent mortgages and abandoned properties, we won't really know just how many foreclosures are out there until they happen. 

In the mean time, if you are facing foreclosure, then it is always wise to consult with an attorney. You most likely have more options and time in your home than you would think.