Foreclosure filings jump in Chicago in March. (Chicago Sun-Times)

By Francine Knowles

April 12, 2012

 

Foreclosure filings in the Chicago metropolitan area jumped 18.5 percent in March from a year earlier and edged up 1.8 percent from February, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac released Thursday.

 

The report showed 12,818 homes received foreclosure filings last month, or one in every 296 homes. That was up from 10,821 homes a year earlier and up from 12,587 in February.

 

In Illinois, 13,820 homes received a filing, up 14.7 percent from a year earlier and up 3.9 percent from February.

 

In the first quarter, the state posted the nation’s third highest foreclosure total with 11,342 homes receiving filings, up 13.8 percent from the year-ago quarter and up 17.5 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011.

 

Illinois fared worst than the nation as a whole. Nationally, the number of homes hit with filings dropped 17.1 percent to 198,853 from March 2011 and fell 3.9 percent from February. The number of homes receiving filings dropped 15.9 percent from the first quarter of 2011 and dipped 2.3 percent from February.

 

But going forward increases are expected nationally and locally in the wake of the resolution of foreclosure documentation issues that had put the brakes on foreclosures.

 

“The low foreclosure numbers in the first quarter are not an indication that the massive reservoir of distressed properties built up … has somehow miraculously evaporated,” RealtyTrac Chief Executive Brandon Moore said in a statement. “The dam may not burst in the next 30 to 45 days, but it will eventually burst, and everyone downstream should be prepared for that to happen, both in terms of new foreclosure activity and new short sale activity.”

 

In other foreclosure news, a report released by the Woodstock Institute Wednesday revealed that conventional mortgages represented a growing percentage of new foreclosure filings in the Chicago metropolitan area last year. Woodstock also found that nearly a quarter of new foreclosure filings last year were on loans originated before 2005, evidence that the crisis has impacted those who had been able to afford their monthly payments for six years or more.

 

Woodstock found that at the beginning of the current downturn, mortgages of single family homes entering foreclosure were nearly equally divided between conventional and government-backed fixed rate loans at 50.1 percent of filings and riskier adjustable rate or balloon mortgages at 49.2 percent of filings. But last year, 68.2 percent of filings were on conventional or government-backed mortgages, and only 29.4 percent were on ARMs or balloon mortgages.

 

“These new data show that even buyers who took the less risky route of buying a home with a conventional mortgage are not immune from the impacts of the foreclosure crisis,” Woodstock Institute Vice President Spencer Cowan said in a statement.

 

He said the findings track with trends showing that lower-wealth communities were hit hard early in the crisis, while in recent years more affluent neighborhoods have increasingly been hit.

 

“Without concerted effort to address the forces that drive foreclosure activity, such as negative equity and unemployment, foreclosures will continue to drain from all corners of our society,” he said.

 

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