• Foreclosure Process Slowing Down, But Not Going Away

    The median number of days to resolve foreclosure cases rose 25.5 percent compared with a year ago in the Chicago area for the three months ended in June, the Chicago Tribune reported on September 22, 2011. A report released by the Woodstock Institute also dais processing times are up almost 51 percent compared with three years ago.

    During this year’s second quarter, it took a median 363 days to move a foreclosure case through the court system in Cook County, 390 days in Kane County and 307 days in McHenry County, the Tribune reported. While longer processing times and the lowest number of completed foreclosure auctions completed since the housing crisis began are giving homeowners more time to try and save their homes, the Tribune noted that the number of delinquent homeowners is again on the rise. State and federal investigation of mortgage servicers’ internal processes put a temporary hold on cases, but August also saw “a dramatic leap in new foreclosure filings” that will add to the backlog.

    Sarah Duda, a senior research and project associate at the Woodstock Institute, told the Tribune, “If the reason why auctions are down is that people’s homes are being saved, that’s really positive. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening.” Indeed, time is rarely on the side of homeowners facing foreclosure. If you need foreclosure help now, our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can provide you with all the necessary Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy information you will need to help you save your home. Filing for bankruptcy can help you eliminate bills and stop foreclosure, but it is imperative that you contact our firm for a free consultation so we can help you get deserved relief today.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Home Sales Increase While Prices Decrease

    Home sales for the Chicago area rose 27.6 percent to 7,187 homes sold, while the median price of $176,500 was a 10.4 percent decline from the $197,000 recorded in August 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported on September 21, 2011. A report from the Illinois Association of Realtors also showed that 1,787 homes were sold in August within the city of Chicago, up 20.3 percent from a year ago.

    The Tribune also noted that Chicago condo sales increased 22 percent to 1,027 units sold but the  $242,500 median price of those units was a 10.5 percent drop from the $271,000 price one year ago. Every county in the Chicago area had double-digit sales increases in August compared with one year prior, but sales for the year to date remain negative. The Tribune also noted that a survey of 111 economists and real estate experts conducted for MacroMarkets LLC showed “downward pressure on home prices is expected to continue and could mean a decade-long poor showing for the housing market.”

    If you are fighting to stay in a home that is worth less than it was when you bought it, our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help. Many Chicagoans and multiple families all over Illinois are struggling through hard times, but our firm can supply you with all of the bankruptcy information you will need to eliminate bills and stop foreclosure. A bankruptcy means test can go a long way toward helping end creditor harassment, but before you can file Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 , you need to contact our office first in order to set up a free initial consultation that will help you get started on becoming debt free and credit rich.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Credit Card Default Rates Drop In Chicago

    Fewer Chicago area residents defaulted on their credit cards in August as the rate fell from a year ago, the Chicago Tribune reported on September 20, 2011. According to the Standard and Poor’s/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices, the Chicago area’s default rate dropped from 3.75 percent a year ago to  2.43 percent last month. The August rate also marks a decrease from the 2.54 percent in July, according to the Tribune.

    Nationally, credit-card default rates fell to 5.26 percent in August from 5.64 percent in July. David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Indices, told the Tribune that indices show default rates well below where they were in the recession period of 2008 and 2009, and some are still falling. “While there were some moderately mixed results, the overall picture is broadly optimistic,” Blitzer said. The index includes credit cards, auto loans and first and second mortgages.

    While a lower default rate certainly is not bad news, some of the reduction could be attributable to higher-quality borrowers getting loans that lesser borrowers are not. If you are struggling through hard times and bordering on a default, you should contact our firm to set up a consultation with a Chicago bankruptcy lawyer. A bankruptcy means test can determine if you qualify for a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy that could help eliminate bills and stop foreclosure. If you want to end creditor harassment and get deserved relief today, contact our office today to begin getting all the Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy information you need.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Home Sales Increase While Prices Decrease

    The federal regulator for the country’s two largest mortgage finance providers said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to gradually increase the fees they charge lenders in the next year, Reuters reported on September 19, 2011. Although the two firms do not directly make loans, they provide financing to banks and lenders by purchasing mortgages and either keeping them on their books or packaging them for sale to investors which pay Fannie and Freddie a “guarantee fee” when they buy mortgages. Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, told Reuters those “guarantee fees” would be increased in order to lessen the companies’ long-term exposure to risk.

    The White House has supported increasing the guarantee fees to help reduce “the government’s footprint in the U.S. housing finance system and attract more private capital to the mortgage market,” according to Reuters. President Barack Obama’s budget plan estimated that an increase in guarantee fees at Fannie and Freddie would produce projected savings of $28 billion over 10 years. DeMarco said the changes in guarantee fees may include increased costs for riskier loans and for mortgages in states with more stringent foreclosure laws.

    You can imagine whom those new fees will eventually get passed on to, which is why if you are currently facing foreclosure, now is the time to seriously consider filing for bankruptcy . Our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can assist you with a bankruptcy means test and answer all of your questions regarding Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 processes. The only way you can worsen your situation is to do nothing about it, so you have nothing to lose by contacting our firm today for a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Illinois Ranked Among Worst Business Climates

    Only two states have worse business climates than Illinois, according to a survey of 322 corporate executives by New York-based consulting firm Development Counsellors International. According to a press release on September 19, 2011, only California and New York have less favorable atmospheres, while Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina are viewed as having the best.

    According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Illinois took a hit this year when Gov. Pat Quinn approved an increase in the state’s tax on corporations, from 6.8 percent to 9 percent. Illinois was not among the worst states three years ago, but moved past Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The survey has been conducted every three years since 1996, according to Crain’s. California was named the least favorable business climate for the fourth consecutive time, with 70.5 percent of the responses. New York was second with 46.5 percent while Illinois received 24.4 percent of respondents naming it least favorable.

    Texas has maintained the No. 1 ranking since 1999, with 49.4 percent naming the Lone Star state as having one of the most favorable business climates in the most recent poll. Taxes, high costs and “anti-business climate/regulation” were reasons for most of the negative opinions.

    For those who have either lost a job or been struggling to find work, this survey gives little reason for optimism. However, you should know that if you are having difficulty paying the bills that seem to be piling up, you can get deserved relief today by filing for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Whether you are facing foreclosure or are just struggling through hard times, our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can answer all of your questions about a bankruptcy means test and help end debt collector harassment.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Feds Pick On Poor And Powerless

    The “mortgage fraud” defendants dragged into the grand federal courtrooms at 219 S. Dearborn St. are not bankers, but instead are “realtors, loan originators, ‘straw buyers’ and, occasionally, lawyers.” Chicago criminal defense lawyer and DePaul University Adjunct Professor of Law Leonard Goodman made that assertion in a September 13, 2011 piece for the newsmagazine In These Times. Goodman claims, “Many of the folks taking the rap for the mortgage mess here in Chicago are minorities. Nearly all are poor and politically powerless.”

    Goodman’s piece noted how press releases from the U.S. Attorney’s Office speak of a coordinated effort against the perpetrators of mortgage fraud, but then also notes how Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi reported “that the Securities and Exchange Commission has been captured by the financial criminals it is charged with investigating.” Furthermore, Goodman also mentioned a National Public Radio appearance by former litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board during the S&L crisis, William K. Black, in which he “lamented that the major culprits of today’s crisis have gotten off scot-free.”

    A majority of Goodman’s piece, however, revolves around the sad tale of 52-year-old former train conductor Calvin Townsend, who attended a seminar on how to use other people’s good credit to invest in property with no money down and over the next two years used straw buyers to purchase 21 homes. Townsend lost everything after the housing market collapsed in 2007 before being indicted for mortgage fraud “together with 20 others on the bottom rung of the mortgage mess” in 2008.

    Goodman concludes that “the moneyed interests own at least two branches of our federal government-the ones that make the laws, and the ones that enforce the laws,” but you should know that if you are also struggling through hard times as a result of the mortgage mess, you do have options. If you need to eliminate bills and stop foreclosure, our firm can supply you with the Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy information you need to maximize the benefits of filing. Whether you need assistance with car repossession or wage garnishment, our law firm can assist you in completing a bankruptcy means test to eliminate bills and stop foreclosure. Contact one of our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers today to help get a fresh start on your finances and a new chance at living debt free and credit rich.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Proposed Bill Would Eliminate Property Tax Increases

    State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) introduced a bill that would eliminate property tax hikes in any year in which the gross property value of property in a taxing district decreases, Crain’s Chicago Business reported on September 13, 2011. The proposed bill does allow for an exception if voters approve a hike by referendum. Under current law, taxes are allowed to increase by the rate of consumer inflation or 5 percent, whichever is lower.

    Franks has several co-sponsors for the bill, including many Republicans. “Home values have plummeted in recent years, but the tax burden on those properties continues to rise,” Franks told Crain’s. “It is unconscionable that property taxes have increased as more and more homeowners are under water with their mortgages.”

    It remains to be seen if Frank’s bill will gather enough support to pass, but even then, property tax relief may not be enough for Chicago-area homeowners needing foreclosure help now. Illinois residents struggling through hard times should know they could get deserved relief today with an affordable bankruptcy now. Our experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help you eliminate bills and stop foreclosure by providing you with all the Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy information you will need to reach an effective debt settlement and end creditor harassment. Before you get started on a bankruptcy means test by yourself, contact our Chicago office today to schedule a free initial consultation and get the help you need to get out from under debt.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Unfit Finances Shuts Down Lakeshore Athletic Club’s Power

    Already facing a nearly $27-million foreclosure suit, the Lakeshore Athletic Club had its power shut off by Commonwealth Edison Co. due to an unpaid bill, Crain’s Chicago Business reported on September 12, 2011. A notice posted on the club’s door said the gym was closed due to “electrical and financial problems,” but Crain’s reported that the health club has failed to pay a ComEd bill of more than $200,000.

    The club was appraised well below its debt outstanding at just $7.6 million in April, Crain’s reported. Speculation about the future of the prime location near Millennium Park was sparked in April 2010 when Lakeshore was hit with a $26.9-million foreclosure suit after its owner, a venture led by brothers Walter and Jordon Kaiser, stopped making loan payments.

    Crain’s reported that the Kaisers also previously owned Lakeshore Athletic Clubs in Lincoln Park, Streeterville and River North, but closed the River North location in 2007 and the Streeterville club in 2009. The Lincoln Park gym ran into loan trouble as well and was sold in December.

    You do not need to be on the treadmill at a gym to work up a sweat when you need foreclosure help , but one of the surest ways to shed the debt weighing you down is to file for bankruptcy . Our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can be a personal trainer for your finances, helping you get deserved relief today and end creditor harassment. We can reduce the amount of heavy lifting involved in filing a bankruptcy means test and slim down your debt to eliminate bills and stop foreclosure.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Could Chapter 11 Deliver Giordano’s To Competitor?

    Already owning Gino’s East and Edwardo’s Natural Pizza, 62-year-old Jeff Himmel’s West Loop-based Bravo Restaurants Inc. will be among the parties interested in making a bid for Giordano’s Enterprises, the Chicago Tribune reported on September 9, 2011. The Chicago-based deep-dish pizza chain is going to be sold as part of its Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court after filing for bankruptcy last February.

    In addition to the Gino’s East and Edwardo’s restaurant chains, Bravo Restaurants also owns Ed Debevic’s. The Tribune reported that Giordano’s is expected to sell for at least $40 million, with the pizza chain’s main creditor, Fifth Third Bank, owed $45.5 million. The Apostolou family, who owned Giordano’s when it went into bankruptcy court, are also among the other interested bidders. John Apostolou lost control of Giordano’s in the bankruptcy, but his two sons own franchises in Chicago that are not part of the bankruptcy, according to the Tribune.

    You do not need to own a pizzeria to be involved in a messy financial situation. Whether you are seeking Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy information , our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys have decades of experience helping people fight foreclosures, stop wage garnishment and rebuild credit. If you are struggling through hard times and wondering if now is the time to seek help with a bankruptcy means test , contact our office today for a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Lenders, Lawyers Could Challenge Chicago Foreclosure Law

    A number of lending institutions and associations have filed protests against the Chicago City Council amendment to the municipal code that changed the definition of mortgagee to consider the lender as an owner of the property, and thus liable to maintain the property. The law passed on July 28, 2011, and supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel will take effect on September 18, 2011, requiring lenders to take over and maintain vacant, attended residential and commercial properties.

    According to GlobeSt.com, organizations such as the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and American Securitization Forum believe the new law goes against existing property law. Daniel Slattery, a Chicago-based partner at Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith, told the website that “foreclosure of any property is only an option, not a legal requirement by lenders … A lender could decide to hold its lien and never act, and still not legally own the property.”

    Who knows how long the political theater over this issue might be stretched out for, but continuing the debate is not much help to the many Chicagoans who need foreclosure help now. Whether a job loss or unforeseen medical bills have you struggling through hard times, our bankruptcy law firm can help you eliminate bills and stop foreclosure. Completing a bankruptcy means test today can go a long way toward ending creditor harassment tomorrow. Contact our office now to set up a free initial consultation with one of our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys