Foreclosures have been a drag on the market for the past several years, as homeowners and lenders dump distressed homes and condominiums at discounted prices, undercutting homeowners trying to sell down the block or a few floors away. While the number of homes heading into foreclosure has dropped, the problem hasn't disappeared because a lot of homes are still stuck in the process.

“It's not the headline issue anymore, but there are still (tens of thousands) of cases pending, and they'll be arriving on the market over time,” said Katie Buitrago, senior policy and communications associate at the Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based research and advocacy group.

The good news: The number of Chicago-area homes entering the foreclosure process dropped more than 40 percent in 2013, to 39,985, from 2012, according to Woodstock. It was the lowest number of foreclosure filings since 2007.

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