By Sean Stillmaker

May 10, 2010

There’s a blurry forecast for the Illinois housing market. Home sales have increased this first quarter, but so did home foreclosures. There was a 32 percent increase in March 2010 with 9,487 homes sold compared to the same period in 2009 with 7,142 sold, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors. It was the seventh consecutive month of increases for Illinois home sales. However, the Chicago area also had 9,302 homes foreclosed, the largest number of completed auctions recorded in a quarter since 2006, according to the Woodstock Institute.

Nationally, home foreclosures increased by 16 percent in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009; Nevada, Arizona and Florida are currently the top state foreclosures according to Realtytrac. In February 2009, the Obama administration setup the Home Affordable Modification Program to assist eligible homeowners to modify their mortgages into affordability. “If HAMP was working, you’d have less completed foreclosures,” Geoff Smith, senior vice president at the Woodstock Institute told the Tribune.

To help stabilize neighborhoods, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department dispersed federal grants to assist communities with the purchase and redevelopment of foreclosed and abandoned homes. The grants were dispersed in two stages. Chicago was awarded $55 million in stage one and then another $98 million in stage two. Cook County was only awarded $28 million in stage one. Suburban officials feel the allotment is disproportionate to the problem. “The federal response and state response have been inadequate to the task up to this point,” David Pope, village president of Oak Park told the Chicago News Cooperative. Kane County saw the greatest first quarter year-to-year foreclosure increase. Cook County had the biggest regional foreclosure increase from the fourth quarter in 2009 compared to the first quarter in 2010; Northwest and North Cook County ranked highest, according to the Woodstock Institute.

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