By Frank Kalman

January 27, 2011

More homes were repossessed in the Chicago area last year than in all but one U.S. metro area, according to a new report.

Lenders took back 45,555 properties here in 2010, a 20% increase from 2009, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac Inc., an online listing service for distressed real estate. Only the Phoenix area had more repossessions, with 55,372. Detroit ranked third, followed by Miami and Atlanta.

Lenders filed 138,913 foreclosure-related notices last year on Chicago-area properties, a 16.1% increase from 2009 and more than three times the number of filings in 2006.

Nationally, filings rose 1.7% from 2009 in the 206 metro areas with populations of 200,000 or more, RealtyTrac said.

One out of every 27 properties in the Chicago area received a foreclosure notice in 2010, the 35th-highest rate among the 206 metro areas. Nationally, one out of every 45 properties received a foreclosure filing.

High unemployment and falling real estate prices have fueled the rise in foreclosure filings, and experts expect rates to jump even higher in 2011 in part because of the controversy last fall over the alleged mishandling of foreclosure documents. Many lenders and loan servicers delayed new cases while they examined their procedures, pushing many suits into this year.

“I would expect the first part of 2011 to be higher than anticipated,” says Geoff Smith, a senior vice-president at Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based advocacy group. “I think the numbers (in 2010) would have been higher.”

Foreclosure-related filings rose last year in 149 of the 206 metro areas RealtyTrac monitors. Las Vegas still leads the nation with the highest foreclosure rate; one out of every nine properties in the area received a foreclosure notice in 2010.

RealtyTrac collects data on default notices, foreclosure suits, scheduled home auctions and home repossessions.

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