Foreclosure Research

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

January 13, 2011
By Kerry Curry January 13, 2011 Lenders who abandon foreclosed properties are an increasing concern in Chicago where thousands of vacant homes are threatening the stability of neighborhoods, says a report released Thursday by Woodstock Institute. Administrative costs of dealing with vacant...
January 13, 2011
By Chuck Sudo January 13, 2011 It looks like not only homeowners that are walking away from their homes when they get underwater on their mortgages. A new study released by the Woodstock Institute found that more mortgage lenders are walking away from homes as they realize they can't recoup the...
January 13, 2011
By Ashley Gross January 13, 2011 A new study says banks are choosing to walk away instead of completing some foreclosures, leaving buildings abandoned. The housing research group Woodstock Institute says it identified about 2,000 of these vacant homes in Chicago. Here’s what happens – a homeowner...
January 13, 2011
By Leah Hope January 13, 2011 Illinois is among the top 10 states in the country in property foreclosures, and there are increasing concerns about the condition of bank-owned homes in many communities. Lenders are expected to take back more homes this year than any other since the housing crisis...
January 13, 2011
By Joy Leopold January 13, 2011 According to a report released Thursday by the Woodstock Institute, vacant homes in the city of Chicago are piling up and costing the city millions of dollars while bringing crime and blight to neighborhoods. According to the report, there were more than 18,000...
January 12, 2011
The following report illustrates the relationship between foreclosures and vacant properties in the City of Chicago. It combines data from the City of Chicago on vacant and potentially vacant buildings with data on foreclosure filings, completed foreclosure auctions, and property transfers to better understand the number of vacant properties that have at some point been part of the foreclosure process.
January 10, 2011

When you drive through a distressed neighborhood and see blocks upon blocks of boarded-up houses, you might think that some lender is desperately trying to get those properties off its hands. Some of those homes, however, might not even be on the lender’s radar: they’re sitting in a sort of legal limbo where the lender refuses to complete the foreclosure  and the homeowner is long gone. Woodstock Institute is releasing a report later this week that examines what happens when a loan servicer decides that it’s not worth it to pursue foreclosure and the property sits vacant, a phenomenon known as a “lender walkaway.”

January 3, 2011
By Lisa Donovan January 3, 2010 Elizabeth Cabral-Arreola vacillates between resignation and nervous chatter about the accumulation of problems — ill health, bad luck and some regrets — that has put her on the verge of losing her home. She’s been looking forward to a fresh start — 2011 — almost...
January 3, 2011

Woodstock Institute is back to the business of advancing economic security and community prosperity after celebrating the holidays with our loved ones. Here are some stories on dangerous medical testing, shoring up the US Postal Service, subprime lending and the foreclosure crisis, the (surprisingly) long struggle to cap payday loan rates, and more that sparked the interest of our staff while we were out:

December 30, 2010
By Kelsey Duckett December 30, 2010 The statistics are alarming: Nearly one in every six Cook County foreclosures last year was an apartment building, putting thousands of renters in danger of losing their homes. The hardest-hit areas? The West and South Sides. Englewood had 279 foreclosed...
December 18, 2010
By Mick Dumke December 18, 2010 Edward M. Burke, alderman of the 14th Ward since 1969, is widely regarded as the most powerful member of the Chicago City Council. But as he prepares to run unopposed for an 11th full term, the communities that make up his Southwest Side ward are going through vast...
December 15, 2010
By Anna Maria Andriotis December 15, 2010 IF THERE'S A bright spot in the recent housing market meltdown, it's that buyers once priced-out of nice houses or good school districts may now be able to afford their target locales. But with foreclosures and short sales spreading, how does a buyer know...
December 9, 2010

Credit-default swaps. Derivatives. Collateralized debt obligations. Mortgage-backed securities. How many people on the street do you think could accurately define these terms? These financial “innovations” play a critical part in the story of the financial crisis, but average Joes—even above-average Joes—struggle to understand the role these instruments played. At our screening and discussion last week of “Plunder: The Crime of our Time,” journalist Danny Schechter proposed a framework for discussing the financial crisis that relies less on financial wonkery and more on a moral narrative.

December 6, 2010

A couple weeks ago, we wrote about some new Treasury data that found that most borrowers whose HAMP modifications were cancelled have not yet lost their homes. We decided to dig a little deeper into the data and look at what individual servicers are doing with borrowers they did not approve for a permanent modification (click for larger chart):

December 1, 2010

Consumer advocates have presented the underwhelming impact of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the foreclosure “robo-signing” scandal, in which employees of loan servicers allegedly fraudulently signed off on foreclosure documents, as two sides of the same coin: both demonstrate a disregard of due process on the part of the servicers. In one situation, servicers drag out trial modifications well beyond their time limit and give homeowners the run-around by repeatedly losing documents, then deny modifications because of “incomplete files;” in the other, servicers entrust the job of affirming the validity of foreclosure papers to poorly-trained and overworked employees, possibly unjustly risking borrowers’ homes.

December 1, 2010
By Dennis Rodkin December 1, 2010 When will the “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore” moment come in the housing crisis? In his new documentary, Plunder: The Crime of Our Time, the New York journalist Danny Schechter makes it clear that he believes that moment is long overdue—...
November 29, 2010
By Jim Campen November 29, 2010 In the 1980s and early 1990s, racial discrimination in mortgage lending resulted in less access to home loans for predominantly black and Latino borrowers and neighborhoods. Home mortgages were a fairly standardized product, and the problem was that banks avoided...
November 23, 2010

The Home Affordable Modification Program continues to putter along this month, with numbers of active trial and permanent modifications in the Chicago region staying largely level (see our previous analyses). There were 32,997 active modifications in the region in October 2010, up 0.36 percent from last month’s 32,880. However, new data from Treasury shows that the large number of homeowners who have been dropped from HAMP—at least 18,000 in the Chicago region—are not yet losing their homes in large numbers.

November 11, 2010
By Nick Carey November 11, 2010 America's housing mess came to the western part of Humboldt Park long before it hit wealthier neighborhoods, but like much of the country the crisis is apparently going nowhere. "Everything is on hold here," said John Groene, director of the neighborhood's branch of...
November 11, 2010
By Dennis Rodkin November 10, 2010 In an era when foreclosures are rampant, Illinois’s 8th District may have tapped a foreclosed homeowner to represent it in Congress. Final votes are still being tallied, but on Tuesday, Joe Walsh, who lost his Evanston condo to foreclosure in October 2009, still...
November 10, 2010

The longer this foreclosure crisis drags on, the clearer it is that voluntary loan modification programs are inadequate to meet the needs of millions of borrowers with homes worth less than the mortgages.  A recent commentary published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland shows how an old tool could be used in this new context to help underwater borrowers.

November 10, 2010
By Matthew Blake November 10, 2010   A proposal to set aside about $100 million annually in property tax money toward affordable housing has found a second life in the Chicago City Council and could go up for a vote on November 17. Assisted by Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), Ald. Walter Burnett (27th)...
November 10, 2010
By Micah Maidenberg November 10, 2010 When President Barack Obama talks about the struggling housing market as a "headwind", one assumes he's thinking of issues like this: nearly one-third of single-family homes in the Chicagoland area are underwater -- meaning their mortgages are worth more than...
November 9, 2010

As it becomes increasingly clear that voluntary loan modification programs like the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) are woefully insufficient to prevent foreclosures on a meaningful scale, it’s time to consider broader-reaching approaches. The debate on allowing bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of mortgages on primary residences (often referred to as “judicial modification” or “cramdowns”) has quieted down since 2009, when Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bill that would allow mortgage debt on primary residences to be restructured in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The bill, called the Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act (S. 61), didn’t pick up steam. As our president Dory Rand will argue later this week, new analysis has shown that concerns about the negative impacts of judicial modification are likely overblown. Before we take a new look at judicial modification, let’s review what it entails (special thanks to Credit Slips for providing a wealth of information about mortgages in bankruptcy).

November 2, 2010

The number of active trial and permanent Home Affordable Modification Program modifications continues to drop in the Chicago region, according to new data released by Treasury. The past three months have seen active modifications drop to record lows (see our previous analyses). There were 32,880 active modifications in the region in September 2010, down 1.4 percent from last month’s 33,346.

October 28, 2010
  October 28, 2010 Foreclosure activity is up across most U.S. metro areas, and the Chicago area is no exception. In a report by RealtyTrac Inc., Chicago has seen a sharp increase in foreclosure warnings and has had the third-highest number of homes repossessed by lenders in the quarter. Another...
October 28, 2010
By Tony Arnold October 28, 2010 A new report shows the foreclosure crisis hit Chicago particularly hard this summer. The numbers from RealtyTrac show the summer in Chicago was not a pleasant one for many home owners. The city and its suburbs saw a 35 percent increase in foreclosures compared to a...
October 26, 2010
By Lynne Stiefel October 26, 2010   Even though foreclosure activity looks to be slowing in a few suburbs, rates are increasing in most others, leading the Woodstock Institute to conclude that the crisis hasn't yet bottomed out in the six-county Chicago region. "Concerns about underwater homeowners...
October 26, 2010
By Anna Marie Kukec October 26, 2010 The suburbs are heading for more empty homes amid the foreclosure crisis, with little hope in sight as the robo-signing controversy, high unemployment and underwater home prices stall a recovery, the Woodstock Institute said Tuesday. Arlington Heights,...
October 21, 2010

Froylan and Amparo Nuñez remember what their block in South Chicago was like back in the day. Good jobs were still available at the steel mills nearby and their son, Froilan Jr., played next door with his friend Hector.
Times have changed. The Nuñezes now have little granddaughters. The steel mills have long closed, and Froylan Sr. ended up working on a garbage truck for nineteen years. And their little bungalow, as Ashley Gross reports for Chicago Public Radio, is an island of stability on an increasingly troubled street. Hector’s old house is now boarded up and tagged by the Latin Dragons, who use it as a drug house. While some of the homes are neatly tended, clusters of boarded-up homes attract garbage and foster gang activity and drug sales.