Notes from the media echo chamber: foreclosures up nationwide

In the wake of news about the nationwide rise in foreclosures – they’re up 93 percent since last July, according to RealtyTrac – theories abound about who, or what, is to blame. Subprime and adjustable-rate mortgages are of course taking a lot of heat, but other factors are getting some attention. In a story today, Trib columnist Mary Umberger attributes the rise to real estate taxes and assessments as well as interest rates.

She points out that the situation here isn’t as dire as elsewhere in the country (Illinois ranks 15th in foreclosures overall), and in the Chicago area foreclosures dropped slightly in July from the previous month – still, for the first half of 2007, they’re up 42 percent from a year earlier.

The Trib is also running a graphic (which you can link to from the story) that breaks down foreclosures in the Chicagoland area by county. Will County leads the pack, with 2.44 foreclosures per 1,000 household (interesting in light of a recent Crain’s story about Will County’s slowing growth). Cook County is in the middle of the pack, with 1.5 foreclosures per 1,000 households.

Across the country: skyrocketing prices in California, overbuilding of condos in Florida and “rampant speculation” in Nevada account for high foreclosure rates in those states, according to Marketwatch real estate editor Steve Kerch (audio clip). He attributes Michigan and Ohio’s rise in foreclosures to “the problems of the rust belt.” Along those lines, in Indiana, an AP story points to job losses. In California, a Senate committee has heard suggestions ranging from a lender-financed fund to help homeowners to a moratorium on foreclosures, according to the LA Times. Maya Roney of BusinessWeek targets slapdash building practices.

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