After seeing a decrease in Riverside and Brookfield in 2011, the number of foreclosure filings against properties in those villages has spiked again in 2012. Not only has the number of foreclosure filings in those communities increased, it has risen at a rate greater than most communities in the six-county Chicago area.
The Woodstock Institute, a nonprofit think tank that tracks the impact of foreclosures in the Chicago area, released a report this month showing that the number of foreclosure filings for the first six months of 2012 was relatively flat over all, compared to the first six months of 2011.
In Cook County, foreclosure filings through June 2012 rose 3.4 percent compared with the same period in 2011, according to the Woodstock Institute report. But in Brookfield, foreclosure filings increased 25.7 percent in the first half of 2012 compared to the first half of 2011.
And in Riverside, the number of foreclosures filed in the first half of 2012 is up a whopping 81 percent compared to the first six months of 2011.
Riverside is on pace for 76 foreclosure filings in 2012, compared to 40 in 2011. If that pace continues, 2012 would be the worst year for foreclosure filings since the real estate crash of 2008. The previous high-water mark for foreclosures in Riverside was 51 in 2010.
Just why Riverside and Brookfield are seeing higher-than-average foreclosure filing rates is unclear. The Woodstock report notes that there are isolated pockets of high-foreclosure activity, but those areas were mainly in what they referred to as “low-wealth communities.”
A Woodstock Institute report from the end of 2011, however, may hint at one reason for the increase in foreclosures in those two communities. That report stated that the majority of properties going into foreclosure toward the end of 2011 were purchased between 2005 and 2007 and that they were financed through conventional mortgages.
In other words, they were properties purchased at the top of the real estate market. Since 2007, the median sale price of a home sold in Riverside has fallen 35.5 percent, according to information provided by Midwest Real Estate, which aggregates and distributes real estate data for the Chicago-area multiple listing service.
With home values plummeting and recovery from the economic recession that followed in the wake of the 2008 crash slow, it’s possible that people purchasing their homes at the top of the market simply can’t afford them any longer.
“Strategic default is a possible contributing factor,” said Spencer Cowan, vice president of research at the Woodstock Institute.
Cowan also surmised that banks might be inclined to foreclose on mortgages in a town like Riverside, because they know they have a better chance to sell the property to a new owner.
“They feel, we might as well foreclose and flip it quickly,” said Cowan.
Bob Caraher, Riverside’s director of community development, said he’s seen a difference in the way banks are approaching foreclosed properties in Riverside.
“They all want to fast-track them and not follow the rules,” said Caraher, referring to the village’s rules about obtaining plats of survey, zoning compliance inspections and final water bills before selling properties.
“They don’t want to go to the expense of getting a survey done, and it takes extra time for us to do a more expensive field inspection of the property,” Caraher said.
Brookfield Assistant Village Manager Keith Sbiral, who is also director of the village’s Department of Building and Planning, said he noticed the increase in foreclosures in the first half of 2012.
Brookfield experienced 88 foreclosure filings in the first half of 2012, compared to 70 in the first half of 2011. It, too, is on pace for a record number of filings in 2012. Brookfield also experienced its highest number of foreclosures in 2010, at 147.
“It makes property maintenance issues that much more profound,” said Sbiral. “It drives residents crazy, and it’s really frustrating if you’re trying to legitimately sell your property.”
Sbiral said that “probably 75 percent” of the building department’s responses to property blight complaints are for foreclosed properties.
“It takes a huge chunk of our time,” Sbiral said.
Meanwhile in North Riverside, the number of foreclosure filings continues to inch upward, according to the Woodstock Institute.
Unlike Riverside, Brookfield and most of the Chicago area, foreclosure filings in North Riverside didn’t take a holiday in 2011. Since 2008, filings have risen steadily in North Riverside.
After hitting a high of 50 in 2011, North Riverside experienced 29 foreclosures in the first six months of 2012, putting them on a pace to reach almost 60 this year.