Mediation program helps homeowners avoid foreclosure (Lake Forester)

By Steve Sadin

Lake County Circuit Judge Mitch Hoffman of Highland Park has been stemming the tide of foreclosure suits one home at a time, taking his message about the court’s Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program on the road.

The countywide program began late last year with help from the Affordable Housing Corp. of Lake County. More than two-thirds of those who have taken advantage of the program have had some form of success.

“This benefits homeowners and the communities,” Hoffman said at an Aug. 4 meeting in Deerfield. “Since the foreclosure crisis began there have been more than 10,300 cases of residential foreclosures filed in Lake County.”

There were 5,184 suits pending as of Aug. 5.

While some areas of the county have been hit harder than others, homeowners in Lake Forest, Highland Park, Deerfield, Bannockburn, Riverwoods and Highwood have not been exempt.

Though precise figures are not available by community for current foreclosures, there were 174 cases filed against homes in those towns in 2013, according to the Woodstock Institute. In those communities, 97 houses were sold at auction last year. Woodstock is a nonprofit dedicated to fair lending practices.

In 2013, there were 64 cases filed in Highland Park, 39 in Lake Forest, 33 in Deerfield, 13 each in Lake Bluff and Riverwoods, nine in Highwood and three in Bannockburn, the Woodstock Institute reports.

During the same period, 37 auctions were held in Highland Park transferring title as a result of a foreclosure, 20 in Lake Forest, 15 in Deerfield, 10 in Highwood, eight in Lake Bluff, six in Riverwoods and one in Bannockburn, according to the Woodstock Institute.

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