Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Update on Zombie Foreclosures in Chicago

Are Chicago neighborhoods continuing to grapple with boarded up homes due to foreclosure? According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, there are fewer “zombie” foreclosures, as they have come to be known. They have “plummeted from a year ago.” However, as the article emphasizes, “there are still more than 7,000 of the empty homes working their way through the foreclosure process.”
Foreclosures Remain, Numbers Decline
As a quick reminder, “zombie” foreclosures are those, according to RealtyTrac, where you have “a vacant home that is actively in the foreclosure process.” Other experts define these properties further as those in which the lender is not following through on the foreclosure, and thus the house is left in an empty, eerie state of limbo. In general, Illinois residents are seeing fewer “zombie” foreclosures than before. All of the counties in the greater Chicago area “recorded double-digit percentage decreases” in foreclosures when compared with the second quarter in 2014, based on data from RealtyTrac.
At the same time, however, decreases in the numbers do not necessary mean that foreclosed homes are not still a problem in many communities. Thousands of homes remain in foreclosure. As of March 31st of this year, the following counties still recorded foreclosures in the hundreds and even thousands:
  • Cook County had about 3,600 properties in foreclosure
  • DuPage County had 488 foreclosures
  • More than 150 foreclosures in Kendall County
  • 434 properties in foreclosure in Kane County
  • 680 foreclosures in Lake County
  • More than 600 properties in foreclosure in Will County
If there are still thousands of foreclosures in the Chicago area, should we really be emphasizing improvement?
Public Policy Measures Combat Zombie Foreclosures
In short, those foreclosure numbers reveal a salient improvement in the number of “zombie” foreclosures affecting Illinoisans. Indeed, according to Daren Blomquist, the vice president at RealtyTrac, he sees significant improvement in foreclosure activity in the Chicago area that is likely the result of considerable measures aimed at combating the problem.
As Blomquist explained, “A growing number of states and cities have enacted public policy measures to combat the problem of zombie foreclosures, and we are seeing the results of those efforts in the overall decrease nationwide as well as in several hard-hit markets such as Chicago.”
On the whole, “zombie” foreclosures have declined across the country. RealtyTrac’s data suggests that about 127,000 of these properties still exist throughout the country, but that number represents a 10 percent decrease from the same time last year. However, Chicago is one of a handful of metropolitan areas in which the rate of “zombie” foreclosures has decreased. While policies in our state have resulted in a decline in the number of abandoned properties in the Chicago area, cities such as Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia have actually presented an “uptick” in the number of “zombie properties” in existence.
For now, it is important to take action to prevent foreclosure if possible. Foreclosure remains a significant problem for homeowners throughout the Chicago area. If you have questions about avoiding foreclosure, don’t hesitate to discuss your case with an experienced Oak Park foreclosure defense attorney. An advocate at the Emerson Law Firm can discuss your situation with you today.
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