Chicago-area foreclosures fall, but experts see little to cheer about

Experts say a huge shadow inventory of properties stuck in the foreclosure process or about to slip into foreclosure is delaying a recovery in the housing market.

October 13, 2011

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(WBEZ/Ashley Gross)
An almost-empty condo building in Chicago's Washington Park neighborhood.

The latest numbers from Realty Trac show that foreclosure filings in the Chicago area fell in September. But experts say the crisis isn’t over, it’s just getting dragged out.

Ed Jacob heads the non-profit group Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, which helps people buy homes and stay in them. He said banks are taking more time to foreclose because they’re trying to make sure their paperwork is in order.

That’s slowing everything down and Jacob said foreclosure cases in Cook County can now take two or three years.

"It’s a slow slog," Jacob said. "It’s like we’re running through quick sand or we’re running through mud."

Jacob says many homes stuck in foreclosure are sitting empty, deteriorating.

"Let’s have an expedited way to get those through the foreclosure process to try to get those units back on the market, because as long as this continues, values continue to drop in some of those neighborhoods," Jacob said.

He said he’s hopeful about a new program called Illinois Hardest Hit, run by the state. It makes loans to people to help them pay their mortgages if they’ve lost income. Fifteen thousand people have applied so far. The state reports more than 150 people have gotten loans since it started last month.