After experiencing a sharp increase in foreclosure filings during the first half of 2012, Riverside and Brookfield ended the year with the number of foreclosures slowing considerably.

Through June 30, Riverside was socked with 38 foreclosure filings, which represented an 81 percent increase over the same time period in 2011. While the entire suburban Chicago region saw a jump in foreclosure filings during 2012, Riverside was hit particularly hard during the first half of the year.

However, just 14 filings were reported during the second half of 2012, according to the Woodstock Institute, a nonprofit organization that tracks foreclosure activity in northeast Illinois.

Riverside ended 2012 with 52 foreclosure filings. That’s a 30 percent increase compared to 2011, when Riverside reported 40. It also makes 2012 the worst year for foreclosure filings in Riverside since the recession began. The previous high-water mark was in 2010, when 51 foreclosures were filed in Riverside.

Foreclosure filings in Brookfield, meanwhile, rose 5 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year. Brookfield ended 2012 with 147 foreclosure filings, equaling the number the village experienced in 2010.

But Brookfield started the year looking like the village would see more than a 25 percent spike in foreclosures, with 88 reported through June 30. In the last six months of 2012, foreclosure filing activity slackened, with 59 reported.

In North Riverside, by contrast, foreclosure filings decreased by 4 percent. After seeing the number of filings rise from 2010 to 2011, North Riverside looked to be on track for another 26 percent increase in foreclosures as of June 30.

Through the first six months of 2012, North Riverside reported 29 filings. But in the final six months, the village saw just 19, giving the village 48 for the year. In 2011, North Riverside reported 50 foreclosures.

The slowdown in the number of filings was consistent throughout the six-county Chicago region, said Spencer Cowan, vice president of research at the Woodstock Institute.

Cowan said he’s not sure that the late-year slowdown will continue in 2013, but said it’s possible that banks are trying to find ways to bypass the lengthy process, through short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure.

“They can deal with it this year or deal with it in 2015,” said Cowan. “That’s a pretty straightforward business proposition. That will affect filings — how banks get resolutions to these kinds of things.”

Throughout the six-county region, according to the Woodstock Institute, foreclosure activity was pretty flat. In the city of Chicago, foreclosure filings fell by 1.4 percent in 2012, although there were pockets where filings rose sharply. In West Garfield Park on the city’s West Side, filings rose 27.8 percent. In Calumet Heights on the South Side, foreclosures jumped 47 percent in 2012.

Other areas seeing foreclosure filings increase noticeably were in the collar counties. While Riverside may have seen a sharp increase at 30 percent, places like Plainfield reported filings up 69.4 percent and Matteson 71.5 percent.

According to Cowan, part of that trend can be explained by the fact that Chicago was hit hard by foreclosure activity early on in the housing crash, while suburban homeowners experienced what he termed “the slow-motion train wreck” — homeowners who weathered the first years of the recession, but slowly were squeezed out of their properties as the recession continued.

“If my wife and I own a home that’s underwater, and if my wife gets her hours cut at work, we can’t pay our mortgage. But we can’t sell and downsize either because we’re underwater,” Cowan said. “We see it happening, but there’s nothing we can do.”

The Woodstock Institute also reported that in 2012 the number of properties to complete the foreclosure process rose sharply throughout the six-county region. The number of foreclosure auctions in the region grew by 73.8 percent in 2012 compared to 2011.

Much of the increase can be attributed to the resolution of the so-called “robo-signing” mortgage foreclosure scandal in 2011. Banks involved in the scandal had put a halt to foreclosures as the courts settled the matter.

The number of foreclosure auctions in Riverside jumped 111 percent to 19 in 2012 compared to the nine auctions in 2011. All but one of those auctions ended with the bank owning the foreclosed property.

In Brookfield the number of completed auctions — 77 in all — increased by 92.5 percent in 2012. Only in North Riverside, where foreclosure filings fell, did the number of auctions also fall.

After seeing 14 completed auctions in 2011, North Riverside reported just nine in 2012, a decrease of 35.7 percent.

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