Tag Archives: foreclosures

Porker’s Index III

It's been a while since I did a Porker's Index and they're always fun.

Since I've got foreclosures on my mind lately let's start with...

... not quite what I had in mind.

The Shadow Market

"Shadow market" in terms of home sales refers to incomplete short sales, pending foreclosures, and homeowners who are at least 3 months behind on their mortgage payments.

Unemployment in Chicago
August 2010: 11.4%
August 2012: 10.3%[1]Bureau of Labor

Mortgages over 90 days past due in Chicago
August 2010: 10.4%
August 2012: 10.2%[2]CoreLogic

Amazing how little has changed over the past two...

Months' Inventory of Distressed Property, Chicago Metro Region
August 2010: 30.2
August 2012: 19.4[3]CoreLogic

Wait... what?

Moving right along, one of the main problems with distressed properties (short sales, foreclosures, and delinquent mortgages) is people spending too much on their mortgage payments.

Mortgage Overspending (more…)


1 Bureau of Labor
2, 3 CoreLogic

The Return of Operation Porchlight

We interrupt this blog to bring you some breaking news.

So guys, remember when I posted a couple of weeks ago about my idea to pair up apartment residents with empty houses on Halloween? Well it turns out that some of my friends thought it was a cool idea, so there's now a website for the project which I might have whipped up over this weekend instead of writing a real blog post.

Operation Porchlight

The new online headquarters for the campaign can be found at OperationPorchlight.com, or Facebook (facebook.com/operationporchlight) & Twitter (@Porchlight_Chi).

We'd like to get about 20 volunteers to adopt up to 10 porches for a few hours on Halloween night. If you're interested in helping us out, either as an adopter, a housing scout, or in any other way, please let me know. I'd love to get some press attention on this dry run so that we can be on a firm footing for 2013.

Trick Or Treat, Deserted Streets

Hey! Operation Porchlight now has its own web presence. Check it out at OperationPorchlight.com, or on Facebook & Twitter.

Let's get some activism going.

The Halloween Apartment Blues

At the end of this month comes a holiday that involves strangers visiting the homes of other strangers. It's a great time for neighbors to get to know each other while passing down a great tradition to the next generation. However, like many Chicago residents, I live in a multi-unit building, two stories up from the street. Giving out candy on Halloween is kind of tricky. Kids rarely buzz up in multi-unit buildings, and it's tough to convey from way up here that I'm home and have candy to distribute.

I have no doubt that there are oodles of apartment renters in smaller multi-unit buildings - the ones that are too small to have a good number of kids living within - who are in the same position as me. If given a chance to participate in Halloween from the grownup side, they'd take it in a heartbeat but their living arrangements don't make it easy.

Spooky Houses By the Truckload

While it's getting better, many streets of Chicago still look like this.

Meanwhile, on the same block, or nearby, in pretty much every Chicago neighborhood, stand homes that have been boarded up and taken over by banks in foreclosure. These houses are more than your standard haunted house. They are reallyscary, and to a trick-or-treating child they pose more than a little danger. Deserted for sometimes years, potentially harboring wildlife, squatters or worse, these homes are dangerous for children to visit or walk past alone. They drive down property values and have made the past 5 years of Halloweens pretty lousy in some sections of the city where block after block of board-ups extend as far as the eye can see.

You guys can already tell where I'm going with this.

Operation Porchlight

So we've got residents who'd love to be able to hand out candy. And we've got boarded up houses that could use a little TLC, or at least a Halloween costume of safety for one evening. Wouldn't it be cool if we could figure out a way to pair up one with the other in a sort of grassroots effort for Halloween Night? We could call it Operation Porchlight. Think of the benefits:

  • Neighbors become more aware of their local foreclosures.
  • Kids get a safer street for trick-or-treating.
  • Exposure to a foreclosed property may lead to purchase of that property.
  • Temporary adoption of a home serves as a positive loitering activity that may keep the worse parts of society away from these buildings for a night.
  • Occupying these buildings temporarily on what is traditionally the worst night of the year for vandalism & tagging may help to keep damage down.
  • Apartment and condo dwellers who'd otherwise have to take a pass on the evening now get to help out the kids and help out the neighborhood all at once.

This idea actually hit me about a year ago on Halloween day, too late to do anything about it. But as of today, we've got a month to get something going. I think we may need to start up with just a few volunteers who would like to "adopt" a house - or at least a front porch - for the evening. I can pretty easily find out which bank has foreclosed on any given Chicago property and try to get permission for a candy-giver to hang out there for an evening. We'd need to figure out the insurance issues. We'd need to know which neighborhoods stay filled with kids and which are pretty much abandoned in favor of the suburbs. But I think it's possible to accomplish.

I would love to see this kind of thing take off. Does it interest you at all? If so, leave a comment and please share this with other parties who might be able to help, either banks with REO departments, neighborhood foreclosure counselors, or other potential advisors.

Landlords in Distress

This boarded up foreclosure in West Garfield Park probably meant more evictions than a week of landlord-tenant cases at the county courthouse. (Photo by Garin Flowers/ Medill News)

A few months ago I did a series of articles on the statistics of Chicago Evictions. However, those articles focused only on tenants with past due balances, omitting the other primary source of evictions. It isn't always the tenant who falls behind. A landlord in debt to her mortgage lender can put every tenant in her building at risk of eviction if she falls behind on her loan payments. Today I'm investigating landlords to see if there's any specific risk profile that is a worst-case-scenario for foreclosure, and if landlords are any better than their tenants at making payments on time.

The answers, if you're curious, are Yes and No.


10 Common First-Time Buyer Mistakes

The real estate industry loves a first time buyer and will cut them a lot of slack to get them on the path to homeownership. Agents who work with first time buyers on a regular basis (like me) are accustomed to the errors that can crop up when you've never done this kind of thing before. However, there's a few mistakes that are easily avoided.

Price is only part of the puzzle.

1. Looking at only price. A recent buyer client found a sweet deal on a 3 bedroom in Skokie for $79.9k. She also looked at a 2 bedroom in Morton Grove for $100k. However, the monthly payment for the 3 bed was $1253 while the monthly payment on the 2 bed was $1021. This is with the same down payment, same mortgage rates. When looking at a condo you need to consider not just the purchase price but the property taxes and the assessments. When looking at a single family home, it's property taxes and insurance. When you're browsing online for homes, make sure you take the monthly expenses into account. (more…)