Foreclosure Research

Woodstock Institute identifies trends and impacts of the foreclosure crisis and works to limit foreclosures’ negative effects on communities.

July 6, 2011
  By Elizabeth Brackett July 6, 2011   Elizabeth Brackett reports on Ald. Dowell's ordinance to address "red flag" vacant properties and uses Woodstock data to explain the scope of the problem.   Video:,8,80     *These clippings are provided for "fair use" not-for-...
July 4, 2011
By Darnell Little and Dan Mihalopoulos July 4, 2011   One path that so many black middle-class home buyers have followed from Chicago’s South Side in recent years ends just off Lincoln Highway, past the entrance to the Newbury Estates subdivision in Matteson.   On Willow Road, a boulevard lined...
June 28, 2011
By Kerri Panchuk June 28, 2011   Advocacy groups re-ignited a decade-long debate over what role the federal government should play in creating homeownership opportunities for low-income and minority families this week. One such group, the Woodstock Institute, is fighting the proposed 20% down-...
June 24, 2011
By Whet Moser June 24, 2011 Trib reporters Antonio Olivo, William Mullen, and Dahleen Glanton have a good piece in today's paper about how the collapse of the housing bubble has hit Englewood; it's a good companion to the reports earlier this year about the 2010 census figures, which showed a...
June 24, 2011
By Antonio Olivo, William Mullen and Dahleen Glanton June 24, 2011 Englewood is rapidly being abandoned, many of its blocks now little more than weed-choked and trash-littered urban prairies. A neighborhood that had long been on the brink was pushed over the edge by the foreclosure crisis, leading...
June 23, 2011

“In New York State, it would take lenders 62 years at their current pace, the longest time frame in the nation, to repossess the 213,000 houses now in severe default or foreclosure, according to calculations by LPS Applied Analytics, a prominent real estate data firm.
Clearing the pipeline in New Jersey, which like New York handles foreclosures through the courts, would take 49 years. In Florida, Massachusetts and Illinois, it would take a decade.”--Backlog of Cases Gives a Reprieve on Foreclosures (David Streitfeld, New York Times)

June 17, 2011

We recently reported that three banks—Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo—received punitive action from Treasury for failing to meet the standards of the Home Affordable Modification Program. The three servicers had their incentive payments for successful permanent modifications and short sales suspended for one quarter—and possibly longer, if they don’t shape up. We know that homeowners are facing difficulties working with many more servicers than only those three, however. How are the rest of them doing according to HAMP’s auditors? Take a look at these charts below the jump.

June 15, 2011

The latest report on the Obama Administration’s foreclosure prevention program includes the news that Treasury has, for the first time, taken punitive action against servicers who exhibit poor performance on the Home Affordable Modification Program (see our previous analyses). HAMP has been beset by difficulties, most notably that the 608,615 permanent modifications active today fall far short of the 3-4 million homeowners that Treasury aimed to reach. Consumer advocates have called for Treasury to take action against servicers who lose borrowers’ documents, give them conflicting or counterproductive advice, and erroneously reject borrowers from the program. We are pleased to see that Treasury is withholding incentive payments from three servicers in need of substantial improvement: Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.

May 26, 2011

The Financial Times reported yesterday that the New York Fed is investigating a whistleblower letter from Goldman Sachs’ servicing unit, Litton Loan. The charge? Litton failed to review borrowers’ HAMP modifications in a “denial sweep” strategy meant to quickly work through a backlog of applications. FT reports:

May 25, 2011

The latest data on the Obama Administration’s foreclosure prevention program show that it continues to reach Chicago area homeowners, albeit slowly. There are a few bright lights that could signal a more efficient program, but it still has a long way to go to reach a meaningful fraction of homeowners facing foreclosure.

May 17, 2011

With estimates showing a shadow inventory that numbers in the millions, it’s clear that the foreclosure crisis is not done wreaking havoc on the housing market. It seems that the ideal outcome for families, communities, and investors alike would include avoiding as many foreclosures as possible and keeping homes occupied. A number of strategies have been deployed in support of this goal, some more effective than others. One thread is common among the diverse array of approaches: the importance of HUD-certified housing counselors, who were hit with a major funding cut in the FY 2011 budget. Please take action this week to help get this funding restored for the 2012 budget.

May 12, 2011

Bank of America recently announced that it will donate 150 vacant, foreclosed properties to Chicago-area nonprofits for rehab or demolition. Housing Wire reports:

April 5, 2011
By Christine Dugas April 5, 2011 After making big financial gains in recent decades, African Americans and Hispanics are again losing ground, critics say.   Rather than blaming the lingering effects of the recession, a growing number of reports point to financial discrimination as a major cause. “...
April 1, 2011

Members of the Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative, of which Woodstock Institute is a lead partner, sent a letter urging the Illinois delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives to vote against H.R. 839, The HAMP Termination Act of 2011, which would cancel funding for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). In the letter, Housing Action Illinois, Metropolitan Planning Council, Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, and Woodstock Institute told representatives:

March 29, 2011

When the South Suburban Housing Collaborative and the West Cook County Housing Collaborative were formed in 2009, they were built on a bold idea: that municipalities could look beyond political boundaries and work together to tackle the pressing housing needs of their areas, from foreclosure response to affordable housing to strategic and sustainable development. It was a tall order, and one that had scarcely been tried elsewhere.  Almost two years later, the experiment is starting to show positive results. The West Cook County Housing Collaborative broke ground on their first project this month in Maywood.

March 29, 2011
By Carolyn Rusin March 29, 2011 The number of foreclosures jumped last year in Palatine, according to a Chicago organization that tracks such data, with the vacancies traditionally affecting property values, sense of community and opening the door to crime. There were 782 foreclosures in the...
March 28, 2011
By Darryl Holliday March 28, 2011 Owners of neglected and abandoned buildings in Chicago—many of which are the result of foreclosure—could face time in jail if the properties aren’t safely secured when left vacant, despite banks’ and third party services’ reluctance to maintain the buildings before...
March 25, 2011

It’s clear that vacant homes put a damper on their surrounding community. Not only are they eyesores, they put other homes at risk of losing value and may attract crime and other destabilizing elements. To minimize these risks, many municipalities have ordinances that allow them to hold the homes’ owners responsible for securing and maintaining the property. What can already-strapped local governments do if it’s unclear who the owner is, or the owner hasn’t notified them that the property is vacant?

Troubled Foreclosed Properties
March 24, 2011
Findings and recommendations from a February 2011 briefing at which Woodstock Institute convened a group of key stakeholders at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to discuss solutions that would keep properties occupied, hold mortgage loan servicers accountable for their disposition of properties in the foreclosure process, and return vacant properties back to productive use.
March 22, 2011
By Micah Maidenberg March 22, 2011 One of the striking moments during a legislative hearing about home foreclosures that State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Broadview) convened in Chicago yesterday occurred when panelists representing the banking industry took questions from the several lawmakers in...
Press Clipping • Foreclosure Facts (CNBC)
March 18, 2011
By Diana Olick March 18, 2011   CNBC's Diana Olick takes a look at a new twist on foreclosure walkaways in Chicago. Apparently, banks are walking away from foreclosed properties, leaving them to be boarded up or bulldozed. Video   *These clippings are provided for "fair use" not-for-profit,...
March 18, 2011
By Micah Maidenberg March 18, 2011 Foreclosures have hit Illinois hard. More than 151,304 properties across the state received a foreclosure notice in 2010, the fourth-highest total in the country and an increase of more than 15 percent over 2009, according to the research firm RealtyTrac. There...
March 17, 2011

Efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives to eliminate or cut funding for federal programs and agencies designed to protect homeowners, consumers, and investors reflect the same flawed thinking that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted was wrong when he testified before Congress in October 2008. Greenspan, a longtime champion of deregulation, said that he had been mistaken to put so much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and that he had failed to anticipate the foreclosure and economic crisis that such deregulation ultimately generated.

March 16, 2011
By Micah Maidenberg March 16, 2011 With the General Assembly's new session heating up, many of our recent posts have focused on proposals now under discussion in Springfield -- and we'll have much more in the coming days and weeks about that legislation. But outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley...
March 11, 2011

As our monthly Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) analyses have continued to point out, it’s no secret that HAMP isn’t doing enough to put a substantial dent in the wave of foreclosures hitting the Chicago area and the country. The greater Chicago region has still seen  132,289 new foreclosures since HAMP was introduced—clearly, the need for substantial and sustainable foreclosure prevention assistance is huge. We need to fix HAMP to match the realities of troubled homeowners.

March 11, 2011
By Michelle Stoffel March 11, 2011 Foreclosures continue to rise in Arlington Heights, bringing additional costs to the village, though officials say there’s little they can do on the local level. According to statistics gathered by the Woodstock Institute, a non-profit research and policy...
March 9, 2011
By Don DeBat March 9, 2011 The Chicago-area housing market is fighting an uphill battle toward that level playing field every home builder, condo developer, Realtor and home buyer hopes to see again in the next few years. The good news is the downtown Chicago rental apartment market appears to be...
March 9, 2011
March 9, 2011 Although the stock market and other major economic indicators such as gross domestic product continue to rise, foreclosures in Berwyn are also climbing. The number of local foreclosure filings jumped from 659 in 2009 to 791 last year — an increase of 20 percent — according to a...
March 9, 2011
By Alden Loury March 9, 2011 It's clear that Chicago needs more affordable housing. Nearly half of Chicago households paying a mortgage and nearly half of Chicago households paying rent are spending 30 percent or more of their household income on housing and associated costs, according to an...
March 5, 2011
By Jennifer Davis March 5, 2011 For two-plus years, Francois and Kimberly Holtermann fought to save their El Paso home from foreclosure. They lost on Feb. 24. It took all of 30 seconds. At exactly 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 24, attorney Blake Dunlap, acting on behalf of a Chicago law firm, Pierce...