Foreclosure activity is back on the rise in Kane County as new statistics show more foreclosure documents were filed in the recorder's office in the first quarter of 2012 than in any quarter in 2011.
Recorder Sandy Wegman presented the numbers to a county board committee Thursday. The numbers show Wegman's office handled slightly more than 1,200 foreclosure documents in the first three months of 2012, more than double the activity her office saw the same time last year.
Wegman chalked up the increase to a bubble moving through a backlogged system.
"From what we're seeing, getting to the end of the foreclosure process, it's taking at least two years," Wegman said. "The other issue seems to be short sales. You have people out there who are getting offers for short sales, and the banks aren't even responding."
Public Service Committee Chairman Hollie Lindgren said she has neighbors who've lived in fear of foreclosure the last four years without being pulled into court. Lindgren represents Carpentersville, which has been particularly ravaged by foreclosures. Lindgren said she'd like to see troubled homeowners and banks engage in more mediation to avoid the loss of homes and the increasing numbers of vacant housing in the county.
County board member Melisa Taylor runs a local food pantry and said mediation has only sometimes worked for the increasing number of people she's now serving.
"Some of the banks are being very flexible with payment agreements, but some of the banks are not," Taylor said. "The court system can mandate that the bank comes to the table to talk. That's good. But that doesn't necessarily mean there will be no action taken on their home."
Mediation came into vogue for the county only in 2010, after Kane County's worst foreclosure year in 2009. That year, the county saw about 3,700 homes go all the way to auction. The Kane County sheriff's website lists 1,360 homes set for auction sales between now and the end of July.
Foreclosures delayed by mediation or just a court case backlog may be at least in part responsible for the uptick in foreclosure activity Kane County saw in the first quarter. Research by the Woodstock Institute at the end of last year showed Kane County had the longest foreclosure processing time in the state. Homes spend a median of 390 days in the foreclosure process in Kane.
The Woodstock Institute's data also showed Illinois, in general, is slow to bring foreclosures through the system compared to many other states because it has more laws to protect homeowners. There is a seven-month grace period in Illinois for a homeowner to make their mortgage payments current once a foreclosure complaint is filed. That grace period falls to three months once a court judgment is entered.
Though a burden on the county courts, foreclosures are a not-often-discussed moneymaker for the county. In 2009, the county took in $1.1 million from the foreclosures the sheriff's department processed.