Report: Rockford-area foreclosure rates among worst in country

By Cole Lauterbach 
Illinois News Network

Illinois is one of the few states in the nation to still have home foreclosure rates higher than pre-recession levels. A real estate agent in one of the hardest-hit areas of the state says high property taxes send people away.

Bob Nieman has been a Realtor in the Rockford area for decades. While the recession was years ago, he says there are still a high number of foreclosed homes there. In a city where the average home price is less than $110,000, he says people still tell him the monthly mortgage payments are too high.

“On a $100,000 home, the taxes are going to be around $4,000. Normally, that’s an objection,” he said. “It has a damper on whether they’re willing to buy it at all. The tax bill is high but the price per square foot, compared to other areas, is low.”

ATTOM Data Solutions’ latest foreclosure information for the first three months of 2017 says Illinois has one foreclosed home for every 317 housing units. That’s worse than all but three other states.

Rockford is one of the worst areas for foreclosed homes in the nation, with one foreclosure for every 631 homes in March alone. Winnebago County had one foreclosure for every 217 homes in the first quarter. Nationwide in March, one in every 1,604 properties had a foreclosure filing.

“U.S. foreclosure activity on a quarterly basis first dipped below pre-recession averages in the fourth quarter of last year, and this report shows that trend continuing for the second consecutive quarter,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions. “The number of local markets dropping below pre-recession levels continues to grow, up from 78 a year ago to 102 in this report.”

A separate report by ATTOM showed that the Rockford area’s average property tax was almost three percent of their home’s value. This was the third highest rate in the nation.

According to the Rockford Area Association of Realtors, 18 percent of sales were distressed properties in March.

Association Director Steve Bois and his organization recognize that the Rockford area’s foreclosures and high property tax rates are related. He said the city is trying to give relief to new residents to foster local growth, pointing to a tax rebate that gives breaks to new residents on their bills for three years after moving in.

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