By Karen Berkowitz

February 15, 2011

More Evanston homeowners fell far enough behind on their mortgage payments in 2010 that lenders and mortgage service companies lowered the boom in Cook County Circuit Court.

Across Evanston, foreclosures were filed on 399 properties in 2010, a 19 percent increase over 2009, according to newly released data from the Woodstock Institute. The new figure is more than three times the number of filings in 2006.

An analysis of foreclosures by the city of Evanston revealed that 86 filings occurred during the final three months of the year, but fewer foreclosures were completed at auction than earlier in the year.

“The substantial decrease in the number of properties sold at auction is most likely related to mortgage companies halting or freezing the process of foreclosure cases as they corrected errors in processing documents,” noted city staff.

Some companies instituted moratoria to correct oversights after it was revealed that overwhelmed firms were taking shortcuts that in some cases violated laws governing the foreclosure process. Of the 14 foreclosures that went to auction between October and December, 12 properties were taken back by the lending institution, while two were purchased by a third party.

Evanston foreclosures have been heavily concentrated in the 5th and 8th wards, which include the census tracts targeted for federal neighborhood stabilization dollars. But the city’s analysis showed foreclosures reached into all but the 7th Ward of the city in the last three months of the year.

By ward, the highest number of foreclosures, 23, were filed on 2nd Ward properties during the final three months of the year, roughly the same as the 8th Ward (22). The 5th and 9th wards trailed at 12 and 11, respectively.

Two-thirds of the foreclosures were on fixed-rate conventional loans, as opposed to adjustable-rate mortgages. The balances owed on residential properties ranged from about $16,000 to $515,000.

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