• Nobody’s Safe from Foreclosure

    Just days after Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels brand announced it would be working with the John Buck Co. to convert the 27-story Dearborn Bank Building at 203 N. Wabash into a 250-room hotel, Crain’s Chicago Business reported on October 26, 2011, that the chairman and CEO of the Chicago-based firm is now facing foreclosure on a personal investment. Developer John Buck was sued on October 7, the day after a loan on an Oak Brook office building matured with a balance of $27.6 million. As Crain’s said, the news shows “that not even Chicago’s savviest real estate practitioners can avoid trouble in the current market.”

    Calling the lawsuit a “rare blemish” for Buck, Crain’s also noted that “foreclosure suits don’t carry much shame in the current market, where many reputable borrowers voluntarily default because their properties are worth so much less than their debt, wiping out their investment.” The Oak Brook building is 91 percent leased, but Crain’s noted that 85 percent of the leases are scheduled to expire by 2013 and cable provider Comcast, which occupies roughly 70 percent of the building, has a lease that expires in April and renewal terms would require “significant rent concessions.”

    Crain’s said it is unclear if Buck will challenge the foreclosure suit, “but many borrowers in his situation see no point in bothering.” While many homeowners might enjoy the thought of simply cutting their losses and walking away from a property that has been hit hard by the housing market, the truth is that a majority still want some sort of foreclosure help that will help keep them and their families in their homes. You should know that whatever unfortunate twist of fate might have contributed to your financial troubles, filing a bankruptcy means test can be the first step in determining the best type of bankruptcy for your situation. Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can answer all of your questions and help you work with your debtors to improve your situation. A Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy can allow you to consolidate, eliminate or reorganize your debt, and our firm can help when you contact our office to set up a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Home Prices Rise Again, But Will It Help?

    Home prices in the Chicago rose 1.4 percent in August for the fourth consecutive monthly increase, the Chicago Tribune reported on October 25, 2011. The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index reported August home prices were down 5.8 percent from a year ago, on par with their April 2002 levels, but Chicago and the rest of the Midwest has seen some of the best improvements in the index during the past several months.

    “The Midwest is one region that really stands out in terms of recent relative strength,” David Spitzer, chairman of S&P Indices’ index committee, told the Tribune. “Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis have all posted very sharp monthly increases going back to May. These markets were some of the weakest during the crisis, particularly Detroit.”

    Nationally, home prices remain below where they were a year ago in 18 of the 20 cities included in the monthly index. Only Detroit and Washington, D.C. reported year-over-year gains, up 2.7 percent, and 0.3 percent, respectively.

    While foreclosure activity typically peaks when prices bottom out, are you still seeking foreclosure help even as home prices around Chicago rise? Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers want you to know that if you are struggling to keep your house, you do have options. Our firm can assist you in filing a bankruptcy means test that can determine the best way for you to manage your debt. Whether you are unemployed or have a mountain of credit card or medical bills making it difficult to pay your mortgage every month, a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy can effectively give you a fresh start with your finances. If you want to put an end to creditor harassment, contact our office today to see how we can help.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • With Inventory Down, Will Housing Market Ever Look Up?

    The number of sales of existing homes and condos climbed in Chicago’s nine-county area for September while prices fell, but the supply of available homes slipped for the second consecutive month, the Chicago Tribune reported on October 21, 2011. Local multiple listing service provider Midwest Real Estate Data LLC said that inventory in the Chicago area dropped almost 50 percent from a year ago, to 8.9 months, meaning it would take almost 9 months to sell the number of properties that were on the market in September. “Even though we say there’s less inventory, there’s still a lot of inventory, and we don’t know when that other shoe will drop with an influx of foreclosures,” Loretta Alonzo, president of the Illinois Association of Realtors, told the Tribune.

    The dip in inventory was the lowest it has been in the past 24 months except for April 2010, but the Tribune noted that the expectation is that it might be temporary. While the number of homes entering foreclosure was slowed by state and federal investigations of lenders’ foreclosure processes, a report by data aggregator RealtyTrac indicated that the number of homes that entered the foreclosure process nationally rose 14 percent in the third quarter. Furthermore, the Tribune said many of those homes will become bank-owned foreclosures and relisted for sale.

    Has the housing market downturn left you and your family scrambling for foreclosure help ? Now could be the time for you to consider filing a bankruptcy means test to determine a better way to manage your debt. Whether you were suddenly hit with a mountain of medical bills or have been unable to find employment after being laid off, our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can assist you in understanding all of your legal options. Contact our firm today to set up a consultation that will allow you to see how a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy could provide you with the fresh start you have been seeking.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Illinois Unemployment Rate Hits Double-Digits Again

    The jobless rate in Illinois hit 10 percent for the first time since August 2010 after unemployment in the state rose in September for the fifth straight month, Crain’s Chicago Business reported on October 20, 2011. The Illinois Department of Employment Security “blamed the increase on continued weakness in consumer confidence nationwide but noted a sharp drop in construction jobs in September,” although industry experts told Crain’s that a multibillion-dollar state budget deficit is holding back government construction spending.

    While the Department of Employment Security reported Illinois employers created 1,600 new jobs in September, the number of unemployed people rose to 663,300. The latest figure is 10,500 more than in August and an increase of 1.6 percent, but Crain’s noted that state unemployment rates “do not include people who haven’t looked for work in the previous month, so the real number of unemployed, while not tracked at the state level, is higher.”

    Construction employers suffered the biggest losses with 3,000 jobs cut in September, falling from 205,200 jobs to 202,200. Crain’s said the biggest increase was among employers of educational and health services workers, who added 4,900 jobs in September for a total 854,500.

    Are you one of the state residents who recently became unemployed? Or have you been out of work and unable to fund a new job for many months? Has your employment situation made it difficult to pay bills and left you seeking foreclosure help ? Even without a job, a bankruptcy means test can help determine a better way for you to manage your financial obligations. Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help you end debt collector harassment through a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You have the right to keep your home even when you are struggling to find work, and our firm can help you do that when you contact our office for a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Proposed HUD Cuts Could Reduce Chicago Foreclosure Help

    Chicago could lose $73 million in federal funds for public housing and $25.8 million in federal funds for social services, according to a Medill Reports story published on October 20, 2011. Because of widespread cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2012 budget proposed by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, neighborhoods throughout the city could experience an increase in foreclosures and an influx of crime, housing policy experts told Medill.

    “If the HUD fund goes away and people can’t get help, we’ll see many people leaving their homes before they even have to,” Braden Listmann, housing policy director of Action Now in Chicago, told Medill. “They go into foreclosure because of that and it has a domino effect on the whole neighborhood.”

    Action Now, a grassroots organization for working families that provides counseling services to homeowners at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure, depends on HUD funding. Are you concerned about additional options for foreclosure help going away?

    If you are being threatened with foreclosure, you should know that a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy could not only help you get your finances in order, but could also keep you and your family in your home. Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers will be happy to answer all of your questions about the process when you contact our firm to set up a consultation. Even if you have never heard of a bankruptcy means test , our firm will assist you in becoming debt free and credit rich.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Two Different Foreclosure Plans Get Two Different Reactions

    Two South Loop aldermen introduced legislation to address the growing problem of vacant foreclosed properties, although the advocacy group Action Now supports one while being skeptical of the other. The Chicago Journal reported on October 12, 2011, that while Action Now said the revised version of vacant building legislation from Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) “might not be worth doing,” the group does “unequivocally support” an ordinance from Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward).

    According to the Journal, Dowell’s “new ordinance overly restricts the definition of what properties are considered vacant,” Action Now says. The original version of Dowell’s measure sought to make mortgage servicers holding a property after foreclosure secure and maintain that building unanimously passed the City Council on July 28. Action Now, however, contends that when the banks persuaded Dowell and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to revise the legislation, the advocacy group was not part of the negotiations. The updated legislation, they say, expands the definition of what properties are not vacant.

    Fioretti’s “more modest ordinance,” co-sponsored by Deborah Graham (29th), would make mortgage servicers or whoever else legally holds a vacant property deploy watchmen at abandoned buildings that are within 1,000 feet of schools, according to the Journal. The bank or institution owning the vacant property would pay for the watchmen, Fioretti told the Journal. The alderman also proposed a different ordinance that would set up credit unions in tax increment financing districts, to pool unused TIF money toward the rehabilitation of foreclosed properties.

    All over Chicago, there are a countless number of families seeking foreclosure help . Did you know that filing a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help keep you in your home and immediately end creditor harassment? Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help you understand all of your legal options in dealing with your debt. Even if you have never heard of a bankruptcy means test , contact our office today to take the first step toward becoming debt free and credit rich.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Could 25 Cents Bring 40,000 Jobs To Chicago?

    The Occupy Wall Street movement that started in New York in September inspired thousands of protestors to take to the streets of downtown Chicago on October 10, 2011. While demonstrators around the nation were gathering to rally against economic inequality, the “Stand Up Chicago” coalition released their own plan to bring 40,000 jobs back to the Windy City on October 7, 2011.  According to the Chicago Reporter, the group has proposed collecting a $0.25 cent contract speculation fee from traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE).

    The tax would generate $1.4 billion in revenue, despite an anticipated 15 percent reduction in trading volume because of the tax, according to the Reporter. Reuters, however, noted that the exchanges typically argue that such a tax would simply send trading elsewhere, and “CME and CBOE executives have already been considering pulling up their Chicago stakes and relocating to other states to avoid steep tax hikes imposed by Illinois earlier this year.”

    “Stand Up” indentifies themselves as groups of “workers, foreclosure victims , teachers, the unemployed and others who are tired of big banks and corporations bankrupting our neighborhoods.” Are you involved in “Stand Up Chicago” or did you attend any of the demonstrations? Do you think taxing the exchanges an extra quarter for every transaction will bring more jobs to the city? Our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys want to hear from you. And if you are currently considering a bankruptcy means test as part of filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to avoid foreclosure, contact our office today for a free consulation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Your Housing Market Concerns Are Justified

    Are you worried about the housing market? Doug Duncan, chief economist of Fannie Mae, told the Chicago Tribune on October 10, 2011, that you have a right to be. “You have to think of recession scenarios,” Duncan said while in Chicago for the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention. “It’s a coin toss whether or not we have a recession. It’s hard to find a lot to be optimistic about.”

    On the same day of the Tribune story, a monthly consumer sentiment survey from Fannie Mae showed for the fourth consecutive month that a majority of consumers expect home prices to continue declining over the next year. The survey of 1,000 people found that the average annual anticipated price decline of 1.1 percent is the highest expected decline since at least September 2010, according to the Tribune. However, Duncan predicted that home prices of non-distressed properties will fall another 3 percent nationally through mid- 2012, and the anticipated decline would grow to 7 percent if foreclosures and short sales are factored into the equation.

    Have you been seeking foreclosure help ? Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers want you to know that a Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy will allow you to eliminate, consolidate or reorganize your debt to eliminate bills and stop foreclosure. Even if you have never heard of a bankruptcy means test , our firm can answer all of your questions about the bankruptcy process and help you get deserved relief today.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • College Grads Learning Truth About Student Loans In Bankruptcy

    The standard to get rid of student loan debt in bankruptcy is “just exceptionally high,” Todd Brown told the Buffalo News in an article published on October 8, 2011. “Most other kinds of debt you don’t have to jump through those hoops,” said Brown, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo who practiced bankruptcy law.

    The Buffalo News story is another in the spate of articles about the increase in college graduates filing for bankruptcy. A study released by the Institute for Financial Literacy in September found that from 2006 to 2010, bankruptcy filings increased 21 percent among those holding a bachelor’s degree. Even if “a bachelor’s degree is the new high school degree,” the Buffalo News also noted that those with master’s degrees or higher rose at a similar rate.

    Even before the Financial Literacy study, CBS News reported on July 31, 2011, that bankruptcy is not an option for the more than 500,000 students who have defaulted on their student loans since 2008. The college graduate profiled by CBS is paying $160 per month on her federal loans and $800 per month toward a private loan, even though both loans were for the same amount of $40,000. Lauren Asher with The Institute for College Access and Success told CBS that private student loans are much more like a credit card or sub-prime mortgage as they tend to have variable rates and have no consumer protections. “Some people say it’s like graduating with a mortgage and you don’t have a house,” Asher said.

    Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest provider of educational loans in the United States, notes on their website that several laws were passed in the 1990s that made student loans ineligible for cancellation in bankruptcy. Before you even consider a bankruptcy means test , you should speak with a Chicago bankruptcy attorney to make sure that filing is in your best interest. Our firm strives to help all clients become debt free and credit rich, but recent college graduates should remember that neither Chapter 7 nor Chapter 13 bankruptcy will discharge your student loan debt unless you are physically unable to work. If you have additional questions, contact our office today to set up a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Chicago Business Owners More Pessimistic Than Optimistic

    Economic and job recovery will persist, and the slow pace of growth will be insufficient to make much progress in lowering Chicago’s high unemployment rate in the coming year, PNC Bank said in a new study. The Chicago Tribune reported on October 8, 2011, that small and midsize-business owners in Chicago are less optimistic about the economy and prospects of a recovery in the short term.

    After 23 percent of the 150 business owners surveyed in the spring said they were optimistic about their company’s prospects for the next six months, the most recent study found only 14 percent reported feeling optimistic. Conversely, the Tribune reported that 53 percent of participants interviewed between July 26 and Sept. 12 felt pessimistic about the local economy, compared with 39 percent in the spring.

    Furthermore, results also revealed that 38 percent of local business owners plan to raise their prices, and 92 percent of that group said they are doing so “to avoid a profit squeeze from higher costs,” according to the Tribune.

    Is this starting to sound familiar? Have you seen your income decrease while seemingly every other cost of living increases? You should know that if you are struggling through hard times, a bankruptcy means test can help you achieve an affordable bankruptcy now. Our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can answer all of your questions surrounding the Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 processes and determine which filing will help you eliminate bills and stop foreclosure. If you want to get deserved relief today and end creditor harassment, contact our office now to set up a free consultation.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers