First-hand experience with sharp rise in Chicago foreclosures

The growing number of foreclosures here in Chicago have been widely reported in the media. 

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At the Sun Times:

The number of Chicago area homes lost to completed foreclosure auctions jumped 56 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to the highest level since the beginning of the mortgage crisis in 2006

At the Chicago Trib:

More than 125 apartment buildings in Chicago on average went into foreclosure each week of 2009, affecting tenants living in almost 21,000 rental units, according to a new report.

And the phenomenon has finally impacted business for Your Guide.  We listed a condo in Uptown last year – and we knew the circumstances would lead to a distressed sale.  The owner was struggling to make payments, and the amount we thought we could sell the unit for was far less than the balance owed on the mortgage.

945 Agatite 004 (Large)

Over the course of many months, we tried a wide range of pricing, and showed the home many times.  A great popular listing, the unit showed well and after a few price reductions was below the market for its size.

After 7 months of marketing and showing, we received two contracts.  The second contract stuck and we began negotiating with the mortgage holder to see if they would accept a short sale.

Two months went by, and our short sale attorney expert seemed to be making headway with the lender. 

Unfortunately, and quite abruptly, we were notified that the condo was foreclosed upon.  It’s quite interesting how little really happens in a circumstance like this.  The judicial sale happened in a quiet courtroom and was not attended by our seller, or their attorneys.  The date came and passed, and the only notice that we received was a note taped on the door to the building. 

These days there really isn’t even an eviction.  The agency that takes care of the property made friendly contact with the current renters, and made an offer of “Cash for Keys.”  The management firm offers the current residents a financial incentive to move, and gives them a few weeks to make the move.  And when the unit is empty, the new manager comes over and swaps keys for a check to pay for moving expenses. 

Quite civilized.

The number of Chicago area homes lost to completed foreclosure auctions jumped 56 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to the highest level since the beginning of the mortgage crisis in 2006.

The increases are likely tied in part to the Jan. 31 end of restrictions that prevented mortgage servicers from completing foreclosures on any homeowner who had applied for help through the Obama administration’s Making Home Affordable Modification Program and the lifting of moratoriums on foreclosure sales instituted by many major financial institutions over the December holidays.

That’s a bit scary.

From another perspective, we have been listing Fannie Mae owned properties at the rate of one-per-week, and a successful sales rate of about half.  After 90 days, the other half go to absolute auction.  One short year ago, no one had ever even heard of Fannie Mae owned homes.

The next few months should be very interesting.  I am extremely curious to see if the improving economy offers any relief to struggling home owners here in Chicago.  We have not seen any relief in Illinois to our staggering un-employment, so am very concerned that we’re not near the end of the crisis, and it could continue for the rest of the year.

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One Response to “First-hand experience with sharp rise in Chicago foreclosures”

  • Hugh James:

    Hello Windy Guide…

    What I find even more “scary” is the extreme drop in property values in condominium homes. A neighbor approached me about a refinance of his current mortgage. Impossible on a number of fronts, but mostly due to value.

    My client lives in the 36th Ward (formerly headed by Zoning Committee Chair William Banks). The 36th was the site of an extraordinary number of conversions and new projects back in “the day.” The 36th ward is now swamped with condos for sale and values have plummeted accordingly.

    My client owes $125K on his one bedroom with parking. (He bought the unit in 2005 slightly under the market, and highly leveraged. He has now paid his lenders well over the current unit value of $35,000. He applied to his lender through Fredie Mac for a loan modification, requesting a principal write down. They declined, in spite of the 75% documented drop in value.

    Given his many personal issues, I have no doubt Freddie Mac will stand a loss in the range of $100K when they finally take this property back and sell it for whatever they can get. Why they wouldn’t prefer to mitigate their loss and try to work with this home owner I don’t know. Must be the reason they’re bankers, and I’m just a retiring mortgage lender.

    Hope you are well.

Your Guide
Your Guide


Robert Darrow

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Chicago, IL, 60657
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