• Illinois Will Need Jobs to Recover From Housing Crisis

    Illinois will be one of the last states to recover from the housing crisis, the Chicago Tribune reported on November 4, 2011. Economists with the trade group the National Association of Home Builders said that unlike the problems holding back Arizona and Nevada, recovery for Illinois will hinge on jobs. Unemployment in the state rose to 10 percent in September, the first time the rate hit double digits since August 2010.

    According to the Tribune, the average number of single-family housing starts in Illinois was 44,431 annually from 2000 to 2003. After housing starts bottomed out at 17 percent of their normal level in 2009, Illinois builders will be constructing 27 percent of the normal range by the end of next year and starts will grow to 42 percent of normal activity by 2013.

    The good news to come out of the forecast would have to be that more consumers are purchasing homes that are much more affordable. Many of those now seeking foreclosure help purchased homes that were as much as five times their income, but the Tribune noted that the trend is “back to more realistic levels as a result of lower home values and tight credit underwriting.” David Crowe, chief economist of the builders’ group, told the Tribune, “There does seem to be some resettling of house prices down to what people can afford.”

    One would certainly hope that the trend could reduce the number of consumers needing to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, although there remains a significant number of families for whom that may remain the best option. If you are in dire straits financially, contact our Chicago bankruptcy lawyer to see how our firm can help.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorney

  • Drug Ring Around the White Collar?

    White-collar crime is not just for executives anymore. DailyFinance reported on October 28, 2011, that over the last four years in Chicago alone, members of the Black Disciples gang participated in mortgage fraud totaling $70 million and the Vice Lords engaged in similar mortgage scams totaling $80 million. While most street gangs have been historically known more for drug trafficking or gun running, DailyFinance said that a recent report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows gang members across the country are branching out into mortgage fraud, identity theft, the manufacturing of counterfeit checks and bank fraud, among other crimes.

    The increase in white-collar crime can be used to fund gang activity and launder dirty money, but Calvin Shivers, assistant section chief of violent criminal threats at the FBI, noted that the shifting economic landscape has enabled the majority of criminals who are opportunists seeking to make money any way they can. “If they’re in a neighborhood where there are a lot of houses in foreclosure, there is a greater opportunity to engage in fraud,” Shivers told DailyFinance.

    Jason Boone, a research associate at the nonprofit National White Collar Crime Center, told DailyFinance that technology has also spurred the expansion, as the increased anonymity in a scam is perceived as safer than being out on the street. Additionally, Boone said gangs also consider white-collar crime less risky in terms of potential punishment if caught.

    People in need of foreclosure help are already skeptical about the legitimacy of many programs claiming they can be of assistance. When street gangs are making millions off homeowners and homebuyers through mortgage fraud, the suspicion would seem justified. Instead of taking any chances on a program you are not sure about, you should make sure you understand the benefits of filing for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help you file a bankruptcy means test that can determine which option will be better for you and keep your family in your home. Contact our office today to receive a free consultation and get a fresh start on reestablishing credit.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys