Zombie Foreclosures Still Problem in 2015

In a standard foreclosure situation, the bank takes possession of the home from the current owner and then sells it at auction. However, Foreclosure-Crisis-1402if the bank chooses to save on costs associated with seizing the home and never officially forecloses on the property, the home will become a zombie foreclosure and the owner’s name will remain on the property title.  According to RealtyTrac, these “zombie foreclosures” are declining but in Chicago still represent 21% of all homes in the  foreclosure process.   Homeowners often do not discover that they are still in possession of the home for months or even years after they have moved out.




The consequences of a zombie foreclosure

Zombie foreclosures can result in serious consequences for home owners. For example, according to Reuters, a man and his wife moved out of their home after falling behind on their mortgage payments and receiving a note from his bank telling him that his property would be foreclosed upon. Due to this, the man thought that he would never have to worry about the home again.

However, about a year later, the man started receiving bills from a tax collector for waste removal, sewer fees and back taxes. After this occurred, a debt collector started pressing the man to pay his mortgage, which had risen substantially due to penalties and property fees. Not only was the man held liable for thousands of dollars in debt because he still technically owned the home, but he was denied disability coverage from the Social Security Administration because ownership of his home rendered him ineligible.

What homeowners need to remember

To prevent themselves from the effects of zombie foreclosures, there are several things homeowners should keep in mind before they choose to walk away from their mortgage. These include the following:

  • Their name remains on the property title until it is sold to someone else
  • Banks do not always tell property owners that they have stopped the foreclosure process
  • Owners can be held liable for repairs, property taxes and maintenance fees by their local government
  • The bank is under no obligation to seize ownership or take responsibility of the property
  • They can work with their bank to get them to agree to devising a deed or putting the home up for a short sale instead of a foreclosure

Understanding how the foreclosure process works can help homeowners avoid the disastrous and stressful consequences of dealing with a zombie foreclosure. Those who are facing foreclosure may benefit from speaking with an attorney who can provide information about this process and what they can do to protect themselves in case the bank does not take over the property.



Are Short Sales Still A Good Idea in 2015?

short sale sign pic

Are short sales still a good idea in 2015? Yes, definitely.

As a realtor, I will be the first to say that short sales can be a real pain in the rear. However, despite the paperwork, haggling and the uncertain timelines —- short sales are a good idea for underwater sellers.

5 Reasons to Consider a Short Sale:

  1. More Control – One of the biggest reasons to consider a short sale is that you have more control in the process of settling your mortgage. It is true that the banks (and the current market) ultimately decide what the dollar amount they are willing to accept but the homeowner has a greater role in when the home is sold and a seat at the table in negotiating the terms of the sale.
  2. Timeline of Sale – In recent years, many foreclosures in the Chicago area have taken years to complete foreclosure. A short sale gives the homeowner more certainty in when the home is sold. Can you imagine finally bouncing back from a job loss or divorce to find you can’t get a mortgage because the actual foreclosure sale was a lot later than you thought? Or, checking two years after you’ve decided to leave your house for the bank and finding out it’s still in your name.
  3. Protection of legal interest – “Zombie foreclosures” are homes abandoned by the homeowner but not yet possessed by the banks. This is a significant issue in the Chicago area market. Note that while banks have a financial interest in the home, the homeowner is legally responsible.
  4. Waiver of personal liability – A short sale occurs because the sale proceeds from the home are less than (short of) what is needed to satisfy the mortgage balance.  The sale of the home whether through a short sale or foreclosure leaves an unpaid balance (deficiency). Banks have the right to pursue collection of this remaining balance from the borrower for up to 7 years in Illinois. Generally, banks have not elected to pursue collection but in many cases they have. In addition, there are reports that some banks are going after these debts more often. In a short sale, the seller’s attorney negotiates a waiver of this personal liability.
  5. Credit Score – After a short sale, the debt is reported to the credit bureau as settled debt. Also, more often banks are not forcing homeowners to fall behind on payments before considering a short sale. This helps mitigate the impact to your credit score.

As seen, there are benefits to the homeowner to doing a short sale rather than just walking away from the home and choosing foreclosure. They can be a pain (not always) but they can be worth it nonetheless. Also, it should be noted that with price increases in the last couple of years, your home’s value may no longer be underwater.

If you are looking to buy or sell in the Chicago area market, give me a call.  I can also answer any real estate questions you have about the value of your home or real estate in general.

Millie C Lumpkin
EXIT Strategy Realty
Mobile:  (312) 217-5644
Email:  millie.lumpkin@gmail.com
Website:  http://ChicagoSouthHomes.com



5 Reasons to Sell Your Home in 2015

There are some good reasons to consider selling your home in 2015. 

  1. Buyer demand is hot! In the Chicagoland market, the monthly supply of homes on the market was 5.0 and indicates strong buyer demand.
Impact of monthly housing suply
Impact of monthly housing suply

In addition, homes that sold in July 2015 were 97.3% of list price.  Median market time for the 12 months ending in July were 48 days.  It is a market that favors sellers and buyers are looking.

2.  Prices continue to rise. The median sales price was 8.5% higher than prior year levels in July and 28% higher than three years prior for the Chicago metropolitan level overall. Lower inventory + a significant decline in distressed sales have resulted in higher prices.  For those who have been unable to sell because of being underwater on their mortgage, it may be a good time to see if rises have risen sufficiently to allow a move.

3.  The mortgage environment for buyers is good. Interest rates are still fairly low. The current 30 year fixed rate is 4.1% according to Bankrate.com (for 8/5/2015).  There are low down payments available on both FHA and conventional loans (conventional loans are presently available with a 3% down payment).  Down payment assistance is also available to first-time home buyers (in Illinois, up to $7,500 through Illinois Housing Department) and some communities are also offering assistance.  The better the environment for buyers — the better for sellers looking for buyers.

4.  The future real estate market is uncertain. The only thing certain in real estate is change.  Housing is impacted by economic changes and political agendas.  Change is constant.  There are some upcoming changes to FHA loans that will have some impact on buyers. Interest rates are expected to rise and some of the low down payment programs and downpayment assistance are subject to political interests changing.  A potential higher market value next year could be offset if loan costs are higher for buyers or if there are more stringent loan underwriting guidelines.

5.  Isn’t it time to get on with your life? The decision to move is usually not motivated by a favorable housing market or higher prices. It’s the usual “life stuff” that pushes the need or desire to move. Your motivation may be for a bigger house for your growing family, wanting to move to a better school district for your children, for older homebuyers – a move closer to your kids, a desire to downsize for empty nesters or a move to your retirement city.  The housing market of the last few years have kept many homeowners stuck in their current home. Maybe 2015 is time for you to make your move?

If you are looking to buy or sell in the Chicago area market, give me a call.  I can also answer any real estate questions you have about the value of your home or real estate in general.

Millie C Lumpkin
EXIT Strategy Realty
Mobile:  (312) 217-5644
Email:  millie.lumpkin@gmail.com
Website:  http://ChicagoSouthHomes.com



Coming Soon — The 2015 Cook County Tax Sale

The 2015 bi-annual Cook County tax sale is due to begin August 3rd.home financing

What is the tax sale?
The Cook County Tax Sale is held bi-annually in early August.  The tax sale this year affects those who have delinquent property taxes for tax years 2013 and prior.  No one can actually take your house at this point by buying your taxes. The buyer is actually buying the “option” of taking your house if taxes, interest and penalties are not paid during the redemption period. They are purchasing what is known as a tax certificate which becomes a lien on your property.

Who is affected?
If you pay your property taxes  through an escrow reserve on your mortgage payment, you should be OK. However, if you have paid off your mortgage or paid cash and have no mortgage, you may be affected if your taxes are delinquent. This tends to be most seriously an issue for seniors who may lose track of tax payments after spending decades paying a mortgage.  Also, it may also be a problem for inherited property where heirs forget about property taxes or feel they can’t afford them.

How do I know if I am delinquent?
If you don’t have the PIN for your home (or you want to quietly check for a parent), you can get the PIN on the Cook County Assessor site. Do a search by property address and it will return the PIN.  You can then search on the Cook County Treasurer site or call the Cook County Clerk’s Office at 312.603.5656.

How long is the redemption period?
The redemption period is from six months to 2 1/2 years. Once taxes are delinquent, the county assesses monthly interest of 1.2%. Once taxes are bought at tax sale, the tax buyer is earns interest which can be up to 36% per year. In order to redeem taxes and get current, you will need to pay past taxes+ interest+tax buyer interest+fees. It can add up significantly over time.

Why would someone purchase property taxes?
In addition to having the opportunity to purchase the home for the cost of taxes, the tax buyer also earns interest during the redemption period. If they decide to take possession of the home, all other liens are wiped out including the mortgage and they have the deed free and clear.

If you think this may be a concern for yourself or for someone you care about, it is fairly easy to verify if there is a delinquency and the balance owed. I hope this information is helpful.

The process is also similar for the other counties in the Chicagoland area although timelines are different. Contact your County tax office for advice.

If you are looking to buy or sell real estate in the Chicago area, please give me a call or email.

Millie Lumpkin
EXIT Strategy Realty
Phone:      (312) 217-5644
Email:        millie.lumpkin@gmail.com
Website:   http://ChicagoSouthHomes.com
Blog:            http://ChicagoSouthRealEstateBlog.com


New Home

FHA has just announced changes that may have a significant impact for some buyers.  This may lead to greater urgency for some home buyers.

  1. Effective with FHA case numbers assigned on or after September 14th the maximum seller concession is being reduced to 3%.  Currently, the maximum seller concession is 6%. This is a 50% reduction.
  1. The down payment will continue to be 3.5%. However, if down payment proceeds are gifted to the buyer, lenders will soon be required to obtain a bank statement from the donor’s account, as well as source any large deposits to the account in order to document that the donor’s funds came from an acceptable source.
  1. Another big change is that student loan payments will be counted as part of debt to income ratio even if they are deferred for over 12 months.  This is potentially a significant issue for some buyers with major student loan balances.
  1. If an employee has changed jobs more than three times in the previous 12 months or has changed lines of work, the lender must take additional steps to verify and document the stability of the borrower’s employment income. Gaps of employment greater than six months will require six months on the new job, regardless of what created the gap. Raising a family is no longer an acceptable reason for the gap.

It looks like FHA is tightening up their guidelines a little bit. If you believe that any of these changes will impact your qualifications for a FHA loan, you may want to double check with your lender.  If you are looking to buy this summer, this may push up your decision timeline.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in the Chicago area, give me a call or email.


Millie C Lumpkin
Exit Strategy Realty
Phone:  (312) 217-5644
Email:  millie.lumpkin@gmail.com
Website:  http://ChicagoSouthHomes.com


Saving for the Down Payment for Your New Home

downpayment pic


They say your home is your castle. If you’ve been renting your castle and dreaming of owning a home, you aren’t  alone. Homeownership rates have tumbled to a 20-year low – 63.9 percent in the wake of the Great Recession – as financial issues including unemployment, underemployment, student loan debt and tight credit conditions have weighed on potential homebuyers.

There are signs that may be changing, however. People 34 and younger are the largest group of homebuyers, according to a recent National Association of Realtors study that looked at 6,572 responses from a survey of homebuyers in 2014. Millennials represented 32 percent of all recent buyers, while Generation X, including those ages 35 to 49, accounted for 27 percent. The median age of millennial homebuyers was 29, their median income was $76,900 and they typically bought a 1,720-square foot home costing $189,900, according to the NAR.

“The No. 1 reason they want to buy is just to own a home of their own,” says Jessica Lautz, director of survey research and communications at the National Association of Realtors.

If you’d like to trade in your rental for a place to call your own, here are the steps you need to take.

Determine how much your monthly payment would be.  First, see what the price range is for homes in your desired community.  If the average price of a home in your desired neighborhood is $200,000, you can use an online mortgage calculator to calculate an estimated monthly house payment. Play around with different levels of downpayment to see how either increasing or decreasing the downpayment will affect your monthly mortgage payment.  By doing this exercise, you will have a better idea of what your downpayment will need to be for the house you want (closing costs will also be needed — this is an additional 2-6%).

Start saving now. It takes time to build up enough savings for a down payment. “Among first-time buyers, 28 percent save for six months or less, while 13 percent save for more than five years,” Traditionally, the typical down payment for a home has generally been 20 percent.  However, there are a variety of programs that can open the door to homeownership with as little as 3 percent or even no money down (USDA and VA loans are no money down options).

First-time homebuyers with low to moderate income levels may be able to qualify for a MyCommunity mortgage product through Fannie Mae with a 3 percent down payment. “Community mortgage products are better than [Federal Housing Administration] loans because the mortgage insurance is much less expensive and the down payment requirement is lower,” explains Gina Pogol, consumer finance editor at Charlotte, North Carolina-based LendingTree.

The FHA backs several kinds of mortgage programs. “The 203(b) is the most commonly used. It’s used to purchase or refinance homes with 3.5 percent down, as long as they have a credit score of 580 or higher and qualify for financing,” Pogol says.  Another FHA program is the 203(k), which can be used to buy or refinance property that needs to be rehabbed or just updated from a 1970’s decor.”

Start saving by setting up a special savings account and automatically transferring a set amount into it each month. Deposit any bonuses or gifts (or your tax refund) into this account as well. How long it will take to reach your down payment goal depends on the amount you need and how much you are able to sock away each month. “For someone buying a $200,000 property with 3 percent down, saving $500 a month, it will take a year. And there are still closing costs to deal with,” Pogol says.

Consider alternative down payment sources. There are other options in addition to your personal savings, which include gifts from relatives or friends or a withdrawal from your individual retirement account for a first home purchase. If you are lucky enough to have a generous relative or friend willing to gift funds for your down payment, you are required to furnish an official letter documenting that for your lender.  Speak with your lender so that you understand your bank’s rules in regard to documenting the downpayment gift.  Also, make sure that you understand what penalties or taxes may result from the withdrawal of funds from your retirement account.

Minimize payment shock. Consider how much you can actually afford, starting by looking at what you are paying in rent. If you are looking to buy more house than your current rent payment, Pogol recommends potential homebuyers “test drive” the higher monthly payment.

“If your current rent is $1,000 a month and you want to buy a home with monthly principal, interest, taxes and insurance – called a ‘PITI’ payment – for $1,400 a month, I’d recommend that you put $400 a month into savings and see how hard or easy that is,” Pogol says.

Consult with a lender early in the process.  In addition to saving for the deposit, you may also need to make other financial “tweaks”.  Will your monthly debt payments exceed the ratios required by the bank?  Are there judgements that need to be satisfied? Do you have past bankruptcies or foreclosures that affect your timeline for getting a mortgage?  While you are saving, make sure that you are doing all that you need to do to be financially prepared to buy.

Although the path to homeownership can take some time, there are financial benefits, including the mortgage-interest deduction on your income taxes, increase in net worth and stability of monthly home payment.  However, the intangible benefits often outweigh economic factors.  There is the pride of home ownership, the freedom to have your home reflect your personal style and the security of having your own space.

If you are looking to buy or sell your home in the Chicago area, give me a call or email.


Millie Lumpkin, Broker
Exit Strategy Realty
Phone: (312) 217-5644
Email: millie.lumpkin@gmail.com
Website:  www.ChicagoSouthHomes.com


Listing Details

5223 S Peoria Avenue, Chicago IL 60609
MLS #:  08970506
# of Units: 2
# of Bedrooms: 6
Building Sq Ft:  2,430

Call Millie Lumpkin at (312) 217-5644 to see if this property is still available and to arrange a showing. For similar multi-unit properties in this neighborhood, click here.

5223_Peoria Chicago IL
5223_Peoria Chicago IL


The apartments in this 2-unit building show very well. There are three bedroom in both units. They have nice hardwood floors, newer kitchens and baths in both units, and a fireplace in the living rooms. The windows are newer, electric has been updated and the exterior has recent tuckpointing. The building has been well maintained and is Section 8 approved. The basement is fully finished with a family room, bedroom, kitchen, office and bath. It is not a legal unit but it can be used by owner while other 2 units are rented out or legalized as a third income unit. This property is perfect for an investor looking for a place to live while generating an income stream. It’s also great for a seasoned investor looking for a property with a strong cash flow.

Click here to see additional information and pictures of 5223 S Peoria in Chicago.

Call Millie Lumpkin at Exit Strategy Realty for more information or to schedule a showing for this property. Ask about other income properties in the Chicago area.

Millie Lumpkin, Broker
Exit Strategy Realty
Phone: (312) 217-5644
Email: millie.lumpkin@gmail.com
Website:  http://ChicagoSouthHomes.com

Understanding Closing Costs for Buying Your New Home

In addition to the down payment, you’ll also have to pay closing costs as part of the money that you bring to the table for your real estate purchase.  Closing costs are fees charged by those involved New Homewith the home sale (such as your lender for processing the loan, your attorney, the title company for handling the paperwork,  local government offices for recording the deed, etc.).  The average closing costs percentage is usually about 2-5% of the purchase price.

Your lender will give you an estimate of closing costs on the purchase of a particular house you’ve selected. This is called a “Good Faith Estimate” (“GFE”). The Good Faith Estimate is provided by the lender shortly after loan application is received.  There is likely to be some difference between the initial Good Faith Estimate and the final closing costs but they do give you a good idea of how much money will be needed for closing.  The actual “Settlement Statement” (aka “the HUD” or “the HUD-1”) is the final and complete form with all the numbers for the sale (including the actual closing costs).  It is provided 1-2 days prior to closing.  Your attorney will generally receive the information from the lender and provide you with the figure.  Starting in October 2015, lenders will be required to provide the final statement of closing costs to the buyer 3 days prior to the close.

Here are typical closing costs for the buyer:

  • A fee for running your credit report.
  • A loan origination fee, which lenders charge for processing the loan paperwork for you.
  • Attorney fees.
  • Discount points, which are fees you pay in exchange for a lower interest rate.
  • Appraisal fee (the appraisal is a determination of the market value of the home to ensure that sales price (and loan amount requested) is appropriate.
  • Survey fee, which covers the cost of verifying property lines.
  • Title insurance, which protects the lender in case the title isn’t clean.
  • Title search fees, which pay for a background check on the title to make sure there aren’t things such as unpaid mortgages or other liens on the property.
  • Escrow deposit, which is a reserve amount for future property taxes, home insurance and private mortgage insurance payments.
  • Pest inspection fee.
  • Recording fee, which is paid to a city or county in exchange for recording the new land records.
  • Underwriting fee, which covers the cost of evaluating a mortgage loan application.

For a cash purchase, there are still closing costs but a lot less since there is not a loan.  The closing costs for a cash buyer primarily include:  attorney fee, title insurance fee and other title related costs, and government recording fees.

Often, the negotiation process includes a request for the seller to make a contribution toward the buyer’s closing costs.  This can help reduce the amount of cash needed at closing.  This request is generally part of the initial purchase contract.  There may also be state and city funds available for down payment and closing cost assistance.  In Illinois, there are funds available up to $5,000 in 2015.   Click here for link to Illinois Housing Development authority for more information about state grants for home buyer assistance.

If you are looking to buy or sell in the Chicago area market, call or email me.  I look forward to earning your business.

Millie C Lumpkin, CDPE, SFR
EXIT Strategy Realty
Phone:     (312) 217-5644
Email:      millie.lumpkin@gmail.com
Website:   http://ChicagoSouthHomes.com





Buying A Condo in Chicago? — The Basics


The condo market in Chicago is hot!  Like the overall market, condos are experiencing a seller’s market and prices are rising (the median sales price for condos in Chicago is 7.4% higher than prior year levels).  Condos are attractive for those not wanting to deal with exterior maintenance and in Chicago — the location and amenities.

For those considering a condo purchase, there are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Financing: Financing for condos is more difficult than a single family home.  Credit score requirements are higher and the condo association has to meet certain requirements in addition to the borrower.  The biggest condo association qualifications that tend to be problematic are:
      • Less than 15% of association fees delinquent for 60 days
      • Less than 50% investor/renters
      • Adequate reserves in association budget (10% of budget)
      • Lack of condo association – with no association it will be very difficult to get financing
    • Association Fees: The association fees cover the costs of the property taxes on the building, utilities for the common areas, exterior maintenance, etc.  You want to be certain what amenities are included in the association fee.  With condos, the monthly association fees can sometimes be fairly pricy.  You want to factor in the amount of the monthly association fees in addition to the purchase price.  Often, the loan amount that you qualify for can be impacted by high association fees (it affects the amount of your monthly housing payment).
    • Special Assessments: Condo associations will levy special assessments for projects such as roof replacement and other capital improvements.  In addition, a building in great shape may need to shore up the budget reserves with a special assessment if needed.  Ask about any planned special assessments and the history of them in recent years.  You can request this information from the seller or association during your attorney review period.
    • Restrictions in the Bylaw: The condo’s bylaws set up rules and restrictions for the condo owners in the building.  It is recommended that you review these as part of your due diligence.  Some associations restrict the renting of units so if your future plans are to rent your unit for income, this may be an issue.  There may also be other restrictions that impact remodeling, etc.  Do your homework before you close.
    • IL Condo Act: This act in Illinois applies to the purchase of foreclosed condos only.  It basically holds the buyers of foreclosed condos responsible for paying up to 6 months of past due condominium assessments and all the legal fees associated with the association’s attempts to collect those assessments. You will want to confirm whether there are delinquent fees prior to the offer or definitely during the attorney review period.  Again, this is only an issue for foreclosed condos.
  • Other Concerns: Some other concerns when purchasing condos are whether parking is included (a real issue in some Chicago neighborhoods) and is there pending or existing legal action against the association.

Even though there are concerns that need to be kept in mind, a condo can be a great option for many people.  These are just items to routinely check off to minimize unexpected and unwelcome surprises.  If you have questions or are looking to buy and sell in the Chicagoland market, please give me a call.


Millie C Lumpkin, CDPE, SFR
EXIT Strategy Realty
Phone:     (312) 217-5644
Email:      millie.lumpkin@gmail.com
Website:  http://ChicagoSouthHomes.com




Choosing the Right Chicago Neighborhood for Your New Home


As a future homeowner, you put a lot of thought into what you want your new home to be. You decide on how many bedrooms, and features like the garage, finished basement, fireplace, master bathroom, etc.  Equally important is finding the right neighborhood to make your house or condo feel like home.

In determining the right neighborhood, there are several points to consider:

  • Availability of homes in your price range
  • Amenities in the neighborhood that are important to you, i.e., shopping, parks, stores
  • Commute to work
  • Proximity to expressways or public transportation
  • Schools
  • Crime rate

Click here for a great resource for community information by zip code.

In today’s home buying world, potential home buyers are not waiting for their real estate agent to send them home listings. They are on the internet searching for homes that catch their interest and taking an active role in finding the homes they want to see.  In the suburbs, it’s easy to search by putting the name of the town in and then searching through what’s available in their price range.  In the city, it’s helpful to know the zip code in the desired neighborhood.  See below for a map of Chicago zip codes.

As you view homes in the neighborhood, you’ll get a “feel” for the neighborhood but a little objective data is sometimes helpful in firming your decision.  Here are some helpful tools for your home buying decision making.

Chicago public schools belong to one big district, 299.  However, not all schools are created equally. For information on the schools in your neighborhood (whether private or public), a great place to start is online.  Here is a helpful website that gives information on the specific schools within your zip code or town.  It includes ratings, parent reviews and test scores.  Click here for the site.

Safe neighborhoods can be a concern in Chicago.  It’s always great to ask friends, co-workers or family members that may be more familiar with the neighborhood.  You can also get a feel for the neighborhood by driving through to see how well the neighbors appear to maintain their property, are there lots of boarded up homes, does the neighborhood appear quiet (or energetic if that’s more your speed).  There is also information online about crime activity which may be useful.

As you drill down on your wish list for your new home, hopefully these tools will be helpful.  Of course, another critical tool for your home search is a great real estate agent.   I hope you will give me the chance to help you find your new home.



Millie C Lumpkin
EXIT Strategy Realty
Phone:  (312) 217-5644
Email:  millie.lumpkin@gmail.com
Website: http://ChicagoSouthHomes.com


Buying or Selling, The Right Realtor Matters