Foreclosure activity fell 3 percent on a national level last year from 2011 but higher foreclosures in half of the states, including Illinois, showed the uneven pace of the housing recovery.
Homeowners, including those in the Chicago area, did get some good news in a second report issued Thursday that showed fewer homeowners were underwater on their mortgages.
Nationwide, foreclosure notices were filed against 1.84 million properties last year, a sizable decline from 2010, the peak year, when foreclosures affected 2.9 million properties, according to a year-end RealtyTrac report issued Thursday.
Of the 25 states where foreclosure activity rose in 2012, 20 of them are judicial states, where foreclosures are handled by local court systems. Illinois is among those states, and in 2012, foreclosure activity in the state rose 33 percent from 2011.
In Illinois, 2.58 percent of homes received a foreclosure filing last year, meaning it had the fifth highest state foreclosure rate in the nation in 2012. The four states ahead of Illinois were Florida, where 3.11 percent of properties received a foreclosure filing, followed by Nevada, Arizona and Georgia, said RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for distressed properties.
In Cook County, the state's most populous county, 70,233 properties received a foreclosure filing in 2012. Totals for other Chicago-area counties included DuPage, 10,443; Kane, 8,564; Kendall, 2,306; Lake, 10,555; McHenry, 5,419; and Will, 9,591.
At the end of the year, there were 135,858 properties in Illinois that were either in some stage of the foreclosure process or already bank-owned. In Illinois, it takes an average 697 days for a property to complete the foreclosure process.
That pales in comparison to some other states. Foreclosures take an average of 1,089 days in New York, 987 days in New Jersey and 853 days in Florida.
"Although we are comfortably past the peak of the foreclosure problem nationally, 2013 is likely to be book-ended by two discrete jumps in foreclosure activity," said Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac vice president, in a release.
"We expect to seek continued increases in judicial foreclosure states near the beginning of the year as lenders finish catching up with the backlogs in those states, and another set of increases in some non-judicial states near the end of the year as lenders adjust to the new laws and process some deferred foreclosures in those states."
Foreclosure filings can include the initial notice of default, notice that a auction of the home has been scheduled and notice that the property has been repossessed by the lender.
RealtyTrac said home price increases are helping consumers slowly gain back some equity in their homes. A report by housing data provider CoreLogic echoed that finding.
At the end of the October, 10.7 million residential properties, or 22 percent of all properties with a mortgage, were underwater, meaning more was owed on the mortgage than the value of the property. That compares with 22.3 percent at the end of June.
Another 2.3 million properties were considered in a near-negative equity situation, meaning they had less than 5 percent equity in their homes.
In the Chicago area, more homes were underwater than the national average but the situation is improving. CoreLogic found 451,684 homes, or 29.6 percent of residential properties with a mortgage, were underwater, compared with 30.1 percent at the end of June. The percentage of properties that had near-negative equity locally remained the same, at 4.7 percent, or about 71,000 homes.
CoreLogic economists attributed the equity gains to rising home prices, sent higher in part because of tight inventory levels across the country.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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