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773.818.9054 office/cell
866.381.4238 efax

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Report Shows Foreclosure Settlement's Early Reach

From today's Chicago Tribune:

The $25 billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement is making its way to homeowners in Illinois and elsewhere.

As of June 30, 5,268 Illinois homeowners have received more than $357 million in relief as a result of February's settlement with the nation's five largest mortgage servicers over shoddy foreclosure practices, according to a report released Wednesday by the independent monitor of the settlement.

Almost half of those Illinois borrowers, 2,555, participated in a short sale of their home or completed a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure — giving up their home in return for the mortgage getting ripped up — with their servicer. Others received loan modifications, principal reductions and refinancings. State officials expect to see an increase in loan modifications and principal reductions in coming months.

Nationally, the servicers — Bank of America, CitiMortgage, Ally Financial, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — reported that they granted $10.56 billion of relief to 137,846 borrowers between March 1 and June 30.

Almost $8.7 billion of that national relief involved about 75,000 borrowers either completing a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. In those cases, the servicers are waiving unpaid principal balances due, according to the report.

According to the state, Illinois ranks fourth in total number of borrowers who have received assistance.

"I am cautiously encouraged by the initial progress reported by the independent monitor," said Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who helped negotiate the settlement. "We're starting to see real results for Illinois families.

Joseph Smith Jr., the independent monitor, noted that the information was reported by the companies and had not been audited or confirmed by his staff at the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight.

Mortgage servicers also improved their practices, the report said. They have until Oct. 2 to comply with more than 300 standards.

Under the settlement, participating states also have received funds, and Illinois has begun disbursing its $106 million share. On Tuesday, Madigan announced a $4.7 million grant to the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago to help it provide services to homeowners in the city and suburban Cook County. Last week, $4.5 million was awarded to the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation to assist homeowners in central and southern Illinois.

10:37 am cdt 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Downtown Condo Sales Dip in 2nd Quarter

From Crain's Chicago — Home sales are picking up for all kinds of sellers these days, unless you're a downtown condominium developer.

Developers sold 182 downtown condos in the second quarter, up from 113 in the first quarter but down from 196 a year earlier, according to a report from Appraisal Research Counselors, a Chicago-based consulting firm.

The local housing market has shown encouraging signs through the key spring selling season, as many homebuyers have taken advantage of record-low interest rates and falling prices. But what may be a nascent recovery has yet to arrive for downtown condo developers as urbanites, flush with rental options, choose to wait for clearer signs of a recovery or enjoy the flexibility apartments provide.

 “There are not only rental alternatives, there are excellent rental alternatives, newly finished with all the bells and whistles,” said Appraisal Research Vice-president Gail Lissner. “Anybody buying a residence right now really needs to want to stay there for a long time.”

Another drag may be level of distress driving the market, with 22 percent of all second-quarter downtown condo sales being sold by a lender or as a short sale, where a property trades for less than its level of debt, according to Appraisal Research. Distressed deals are more common in the resale market and drag down prices of neighboring properties, Ms. Lissner said.

Downtown developers sold 295 condos in the first half of the year, down from 385 a year earlier, according to Appraisal Research.

 In one encouraging sign, the supply of unsold new condos continues to shrink, to 1,529 units in the second quarter, down from 1,670 in the first quarter and 1,828 in the fourth quarter of 2011. Nearly 500 of those units are concentrated in three failed South Loop towers that will resume marketing next year.

 Leading all projects in sales was 200 N. Dearborn St., a condo conversion that sold 37 units in the second quarter, said developer Nick Gouletas of American Invsco Corp. Aided by several price cuts and a discount for cash buyers, the project has particularly appealed to parents of students attending the downtown campus of Loyola University Chicago, Mr. Gouletas said.

 Other sales leaders include CMK Development Corp., which sold 18 units in the 714-unit building at 235 W. Van Buren St., and Hinsdale-based Foxford City LLC, which sold 18 units at the Van Buren Lofts, 1224 W. Van Buren St., after buying 52 unsold condos in the struggling project last year and cutting prices.

The leaders show that well-priced, well-located projects can sell at a brisk pace, Ms. Lissner said. Developers stuck with a glut of unsold condos can either offer them in bulk or convert to rental, though the best conversion candidates have likely already made the switch, she said.

Sales are expected to rise next quarter as the 89-unit Ritz Carlton Residences begins closing sales this month, though less than half the condos in the luxury high-rise are under contract, according to Appraisal Research. The only other new downtown project being delivered this year is the 24-unit second phase at CA 23, 16-20 N. Carpenter St.

11:16 am cdt 

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