National foreclosure settlement may loosen backlog 
More foreclosed properties may begin trickling back into the housing market in the coming months now that a multi-state settlement has been reached on the “robo-signing” issue, says Al Suguitan, president and CEO of the Greater Gateway Association of REALTOR®. Read more in the Belleville News-Democrat.

Other news from around the state:

Peoria real estate picture looking good
“While the news concerning real estate in Illinois in the fourth quarter of 2011 was positive, the news in the Greater Peoria Area is even better,” the East Peoria Times-Courier reports. The local housing market has been named one of the Top 10 Markets to Watch in 2012 by Inman News and Ed Scharlau, vice-chairman of First Busey Corp., said Peoria has the strongest downstate economy.

Stable Galesburg housing market a good sign
Galesburg saw a slight increase in January home sales compared to a year ago and West Central Illinois Association of Realtors President Mike Cratty says that stability is a good sign. “Stability and small growth will probably stay with us a lot longer time than if we spiked like the state did,” Cratty tells the Register-Mail.

New opportunities in rising farmland prices
The Midwest farmland market is surging and while farmers are investing in land, so too are “financiers who may have never harvested a kernel, but could easily see the value of rich, black dirt in uncertain economic times,” the Kane County Chronicle reports.