Illinois pays for its mortgage mess

The housing recovery in Chicago is lagging behind the comeback in many other U.S. cities, and the main reason is no mystery.

Illinois is one of several states burdened by a slow and costly system for dealing with distressed properties. Under state law, a judge oversees the foreclosure process. The required paperwork is onerous. Legal fees inescapable. From the time homeowners stop paying the mortgage, it can take years before lenders recover the property and put it up for sale.

In states with more efficient mortgage laws, the process moves much faster. In Texas, it averages three months from start to finish. No judge is involved. In the vast majority of cases a judge would have nothing to do anyway: The homeowner isn’t paying, so the lender takes the home. Case closed.

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