By Jane Michaels
February 23, 2010

Foreclosures in much of DuPage and west suburban Cook counties haven’t risen as dramatically as in north and northwest suburban Cook County, but it may only be a matter of time.

The Woodstock Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group for fair housing, reports north and northwest suburban Cook County were among the areas in the Chicago region with the most rapid rate of growth in foreclosure filings from 2008 to 2009.

The filing increases averaging between 40 and 48.5 percent in the north and northwest suburbs indicate a shift from the city of Chicago and the south suburban Cook County, areas which were caught up early in the home mortgage crisis.

Problems paying mortgages have shifted to more affluent areas with job losses and hikes in adjustable mortgage rates.

“As long as unemployment and the number of homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their properties are worth remain high, foreclosures will remain a significant issue for the Chicago region,” the report, prepared by researchers Geoff Smith and Sarah Duda, said.

In western Cook County communities served by The Doings, foreclosures in Western Springs jumped by 65 percent from 20 in 2008 to 33 in 2009. Foreclosures remained almost the same in La Grange with 56 in 2008 and 57 in 2009.

“La Grange hasn’t experienced a huge influx of REO property. It’s just starting to pick up,” said Paul Stepanovich, broker and owner of RE/MAX Focus in La Grange, referring to foreclosed homes owned by banks.

Foreclosures, which were seen first in less expensive homes, now have moved to more costly homes as the “upper echelons of corporate America has been laid off,” Stepanovich observed.

Burr Ridge, which is split between Cook and DuPage counties, showed a 33 percent drop in foreclosures from 64 in 2008 to 43 in 2009.

In DuPage County, Oakbrook Terrace posted the highest increase of 79 percent with 14 in 2008 and 25 in 2009.

The increasing number of foreclosed homes is expected to continue depressing housing values throughout the region. Stepanovich likened prices to the level of 2000 or before, considering an adjustment for inflation.

The report also noted foreclosures continued to grow in 2009 despite key federal, state and local interventions developed to limit the impact of foreclosures on the region’s homeowners and communities.

“I really didn’t see the government programs of much help,” Stepanovich said. “I didn’t see the trickle down relief to my clients.”

Stepanovich noted it has been extremely difficult for many homeowners to obtain loan modifications, and some give up and can no longer afford their homes.

Complicating the situation is a large influx of foreclosed properties, which had been delayed in being processed, are now anticipated to flood the marketplace, he said.

“We don’t want to saturate the marketplace putting thousands of foreclosures on at once,” he said. “It will be a long road before we get out of this crisis.”

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