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Foreclosure Activity Surged 34 Percent Last Quarter

By Chris Bentley in News on Oct 25, 2012 5:20PM

Photo credit: Eric Allix Rogers

Chicago-area foreclosures rose 34 percent in the third quarter, which ended September 30, compared to the same period last year. A surge of activity in August landed Illinois at the top of RealtyTrac’s list of foreclosure filings for the first time since the company began issuing monthly reports roughly seven years ago. According to RealtyTrac, 1 in every 98 housing units in the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet area received a foreclosure filing between July 1 and Sept. 30.

Foreclosures dropped in 131 out of the nation’s top 212 metro areas, including 12 of the 20 largest metros — San Francisco, Detroit and Los Angeles showed the greatest decreases. Chicago’s increase tied with Philadelphia for the third-largest, edging out only New York (which had a 69 percent increase over that time) and Tampa (49 percent).

There is a lag in filings because Illinois is one of 26 states with a judicial foreclosure system, in which lenders must go to court to seize property. Cook County foreclosure rates are typically above the state's average and far above the national average, a fact all too familiar to those in neighborhoods plagued by vacant properties.

The city’s micro-market recovery program, announced last year, has targeted nine of those neighborhoods for a kind of foreclosure triage. The federal government awarded Chicago $170 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding, but so far the city has only sold a few dozen homes through that program. Beyond those federally funded initiatives, grassroots movements like “Liberate the South Side” have brought attention to neglect on the part of absentee banks.