Often, when searching for listings to show a buyer I'll find a property that may fit the bill that is in foreclosure. As a buyer, it is important for you to know this information, and as a Realtor this is data I can obtain fairly easily. And you can, too! By request, here is a step by step guide to where this public information is located online, and how to access it in Cook County, IL.
1: Go to the Cook County assessor website at : http://www.cookcountyassessor.com/Property_Search/Property_Search.aspx
Select "search by address" to get the property tax PIN number. Write this down.
2: Then with this info go to the County Recorder of Deeds website at:
At the top of the page, you will see a field to enter that property PIN number. Search. Select the property.
This will pull up an abstract, a list per se of the liens etc filed against the property in question. If default paperwork has been filed with the recorder's office, it should be listed here. Keep an eye open in the TYPE column for the phrase "LIS PENDENS". That means a legal action. It is not necessarily a foreclosure, but often is. If there is no "Lis Pendens" filed, then no foreclosure. If there is a "Lis Pendens" filed, look over into the column for GRANTOR and see if it is a Bank or mortgage company, and then look under GRANTEE and see if it's the properrty owner name. WRITE ALL OF THIS DOWN OR PRINT IT. You will need this information on the next step. If these are a match then its a very safe bet it's probably a foreclosure but to know for 100%, you would then have to go to the Clerk of the Court for Cook County website to look up the court case using a Full Case docket search.
3: Go to www.http://www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org/?section=CASEINFOPage&CASEINFOPage=2400
Under the drop down for "Division Name" which is the first field in the search options choose "Chancery ". This is the department that handles foreclosures. Then you can either search by "Defendants" name (this would be the property owner in a foreclosure scenario); or you can search by '"Plantiff's" name (you will have this information from the search you just did on the County Recorder website). I would search by the owners or i.e. defendant name though if known, because if you search by the lender a WHOLE LOT of cases will come up!
Be warned that this website is fickle. If nothing returns on your first search do it AGAIN, and always click the "Search Now" button, do not just hit "enter" on your keyboard.
This will bring up the court docket. A judgement won't appear right away, it usually takes at least 3 months after the case was filed to appear. Then it can take quite a while before the sheriff's sale is approved but once it is; this will appear in the court docket as well.
Informnation deemed reliable, while actinos steps above are subject to change without notice. I hope this is helpful, and happy hunting.