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The Woodstock Institute, a non-profit research and policy organization, reported that foreclosure filings in the six-county Chicago region decreased from 76,986 in 2010 to 64,877 in 2011, or by 18.9 percent. The number of foreclosures completed through auctions in 2011 was 20,281, a decline of 34.5 percent from the previous year.

For Evanston, the number of foreclosure filings dropped from 399 in 2010 to 316 in 2011, a decline of 20.8 percent. The number of foreclosures completed through auction in 2010 was 86, a decline of 35.8 percent from the previos year. The accompanying chart shows the number of foreclosure, filings for Evanston for the period 2006-11.

Woodstock’s report theorizes that the number of foreclosures may have declined in 2011 because it may be in the lender’s interest to approve a short sale or take a deed in lieu of foreclosure, rather than file a foreclosure, which now takes an average of about one year to resolve. Another possibility is that mortgage-holders may not have the capacity to file a higher number of foreclosures and ensure that paperwork and affidavits are properly verified before filing.

Woodstock’s report also found that the type of mortgages being foreclosed has changed since 2008. At the beginning of the economic downturn, about half the foreclosures were of riskier ARM [adjustable rate mortgages] or mortgages with a balloon payment, and half were conventional fixed-rate mortgages. In recent years, though, about 75 percent of the foreclosure filings are of fixed-rate mortgages and 25 percent are the riskier ARM or balloon payment mortgages.

In addition, Woodstock found that between 20 and 25 percent of the foreclosures filed in 2011 involved mortgages that originated before 2005. “This means that even borrowers who have been able to pay successfully for six years or more are not immune to the negative impacts of the current economic conditions,” said Woodstock.