Illinois REALTORS® — Show us your flag and your spirit!

Howard and Eloise

Howard Handler and daughter Eloise.

With Memorial Day and Flag Day already behind us, do you have any photos with the American flag like local Governmental Affairs Director Howard Handler and his daughter Eloise?

Have you decorated your office red, white and blue or do you plan to wear those colors to a picnic or ballgame?

In any case, Illinois REALTORS® are invited to submit patriotic photos to this blog for display next week. Please email your photos to the REALTORS® Love Red White and Blue project at

Have a safe, happy and healthy 4th of July!





Morning Minute: New low down payment program for Chicago homebuyers

Qualifying Chicago homebuyers will be able to take advantage of a mortgage loan program with a 1 percent down payment being offered through a partnership of Guaranteed Rate, the city of Chicago and Chicago Infrastructure Trust. The Chicago Home Buyer Assistance Program aims to help more qualified consumers become homeowners. Read more in HousingWire’s article, “Guaranteed Rate offers 1% down mortgage program through homebuyer grant with Chicago,” and find additional details from Guaranteed Rate.

In other headlines:

Top 5 Things to Know About New Drone Rules – National Association of REALTORS®

US home prices rise 5.4% in 20 cities in April: S&P/Case-Shiller – CNBC

NAR provides guidance on new HUD rule related to criminal history screening for rental applicants

Background Check words in box with mark to illustrate a police or criminal research or investigation in hiring workers or employees

Bigstock image

For a better understanding of the policies and procedures landlords can safely use to check the criminal history of housing applicants, the National Association of REALTORS® offers a list of recommended ideas based on information supplied by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The list of recommendations will help landlords avoid violations of the Fair Housing Act that would have a disproportionate effect on minorities or other protected classes of people. This issue surfaced in June 2015 when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold a Court of Appeals ruling that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had contributed to “segregated housing patterns by allocating too many tax credits to housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods.” See National Public Radio story.

The NAR tries to clarify the issue for REALTORS® in an article, “Fair Housing Act: Criminal History-Based Practices and Policies,” that urges housing providers to use caution in developing policies. A list of “Do’s” offers recommendations in a positive manner. A list of “Don’ts” explains what needs to be avoided.


Illinois REALTORS® learn about an important asset


Dennis Wilmsmeyer (Photo by Matt Difanis)

Dennis Wilmsmeyer, the Executive Director of America’s Central Port, reminded a group of Illinois REALTORS® of the state’s benefits to domestic and foreign investors, including its status as a designated trade zone.

Wilmsmeyer made his remarks to the Commercial and Industrial Committee and the Global Working Group at the Illinois REALTORS® June Business Meetings.

Bill Caton, Chair of the Commercial and Industrial Committee, and Jim Kinney, Chair of the Global Working Group, introduced Wilmsmeyer, who was formerly a REALTOR®.  Wilmsmeyer joined the Port District in 1999 and became the Executive Director in 2010.

While he, like many of us, lamented the state’s current fiscal situation, he said “the port is strategically located and serves one of the busiest waterways to move over $1 billion dollars’ worth of goods each year.”  His presentation included statistics on the port itself but he also spoke about the value of Illinois and its logistics infrastructure and why Illinois is key to getting products to market, both domestically and internationally. As a designated foreign trade zone, the port allows for the import of goods with the benefit of reduced, deferred or possibly elimination of duties on those goods.

He said the designated foreign trade is a great feature our members need to be aware of when helping their foreign investor clients make decisions on where to locate their U.S. facilities.  Known as Foreign Trade Zone #31, it is part of a network of eight others in the state of Illinois. (Get more information.)

So while, there still are hurdles here in the state that need to be overcome, Illinois REALTORS® need to remember the assets we have in order to serve clients as “trusted advisors,” Wilmsmeyer said. “We consider REALTORS® our partners, and we are happy to provide tours to educate you on all we have to offer for your clients.”

He also stressed the importance of residential REALTORS®, their knowledge of the surrounding communities and their ability to share information about the quality of life in the areas where port authorities are located. This information goes a long way since it is part of the decision-making criteria for site selectors and corporate leadership.


More Illinois REALTORS® needed to answer condo Call For Action

Call for action bannerTwo weeks after the National Association of REALTORS® issued a Call For Action on H.R. 3700, several local Illinois associations have met their goals but more REALTORS® need to tell their Senators to vote for this important legislation.

Taxpayers, homebuyers and the real estate market will benefit from this important legislation, known as the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act,” so REALTORS® who haven’t participated yet can login and answer the call.

H.R. 3700 will:

  • remove a burdensome and expensive FHA Condo approval process;
  • reduce FHA restrictions on the number of condos available to homebuyers; and
  • permanently streamline Rural Housing Service loan processing.

Local associations that have hit their goals include:

  • REALTOR® Association of Northwestern Illinois;
  • Quincy Association of REALTORS®;
  • Belvidere Board of REALTORS®; and
  • Danville Area Board of REALTORS®.

Last year, NAR testified in support of H.R. 3700 before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance. The U.S. House of Representatives passed it unanimously, 427-0.

For more information on this issue, see the letter from NAR President Tom Salamone to the U.S. Senate, read a recap of NAR testimony in 2015 and read about the House vote earlier this year.