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updated: 8/11/2011 11:53 AM

Far fewer foreclosures in suburbs, but it's false hope

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  • Suburban foreclosures dropped sharply in July, but experts attribute much of the decrease to slower processing of foreclosure documents rather than to a healthier housing market.

      Suburban foreclosures dropped sharply in July, but experts attribute much of the decrease to slower processing of foreclosure documents rather than to a healthier housing market.

 
 

DuPage County as well as the state overall saw record decreases in foreclosures during July compared to a year ago, according to a report expected to be released today by RealtyTrac Inc.

Other suburban counties also saw large drops ranging from 40 percent in Lake County to 57 percent in Kane County. DuPage County dropped 64 percent.

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But the Irvine, Calif.-based research firm and some local experts warned that such lower numbers really indicate the foreclosure process simply has been delayed for many homeowners. So don't believe the real estate market is on the upswing yet.

"Nobody should have any illusions that this problem is getting any better," said Jeff Metcalf, CEO of Record Information Services, a research firm in Kaneville. "There are so many hands in the pie, it's actually holding up the process. You've got judges, lawyers, lenders, loan modifiers. There's just not enough pie any more."


had about 10,627 foreclosure actions -- including default notices, auctions and bank repossessions -- in July, a 46 percent drop compared to July 2010. Despite the drop, Illinois was No. 9 nationwide in foreclosures. Nationwide, the total was 212,764, or a 35 percent drop, said the RealtyTrac report.

Locally, DuPage County showed a 64 percent decline. Kane County had a 57 percent drop. Will County had 50 percent; McHenry dropped 44 percent; and Lake dropped 40 percent. Cook County, which includes Chicago and suburban areas, showed a 50 percent drop, the report said.

Experts believe the foreclosure process has slowed due to the lender robo-signing controversy, still under investigation by the state attorneys general. There are also ongoing economic woes, especially with a high rate of unemployment and market volatility.

Additional measures that offer help to struggling homeowners and to the unemployed help them hang onto their homes a little longer, also contributing to the reduced numbers, said RealtyTrac spokesman Daren Blomquist. But some of those homes still will end up in foreclosure.

"A lot of these foreclosure prevention efforts have bought some time for homeowners," said Blomquist. "And lenders have become more accommodating in providing modifications or short sales."

The robo-signing controversy started in October 2010 when some major lenders were accused of trying to process foreclosures quickly by signing documents without thoroughly reading them.

In addition, the July report showed that for the second straight month the bank-owned, or repossession, of homes increased about 20 percent in Illinois, with similar numbers nationwide.

Much of this is the result of people just walking away from their homes when their mortgage costs more than the value of the home, said David Siegel, a Wheeling attorney specializing in bankruptcy and foreclosures.

"I don't see the bottom to this crisis for another two to three years," Siegel said.

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