Illinois REALTORS® learn from Czech counterparts


(l to r) Sharon Gorrell, Joanna Krouz (Broker, Keller Williams, Buford, GA), Jan Borůvka and Jana Herdova.

By Jana Herdova and Sharon Gorrell

Jana Herdova, Illinois REALTOR® Consulate Liaison and NAR President’s Liaison to the Czech Republic, along with Sharon Gorrell, Illinois REALTOR Housing Policy Advisor and Staff Liaison to the Global Working Group, participated in a two-day trade mission in the Czech Republic during the past week.

In her capacity as president’s liaison, Herdova coordinated the mission with Jan Borůvka, Secretary General for Asociace realitních kanceláří České republiky (ARK ČR) and is also the Co-Chair of the Property Agents Committee for European Association of Real Estate Professions (CEPI-CEI) where he works on behalf of real estate professionals on industry standards and public policy in the European Parliament of the European Union.

Herdova and Gorrell toured property developments, attended a building and real estate trade show, and participated in a round table discussion on real estate markets and global business programming for associations.

Gorrell explained how the Illinois REALTORS® Global Working Group structure and partnerships with organizations such as AREAA, NAREB and NAHREP would better prepare members to engage in global business. A better understanding of other cultures will help members become trusted advisors to clients from anywhere in the world.

Borůvka pointed out similarities in his association’s advocacy and public policy. He shared that there is pending legislation in the Czech Parliament that will establish a license law policy. While the Czech Republic currently does not require professional credentials to sell real estate, he is hoping a regulatory framework will help their real estate practitioners become the best, most qualified, trusted advisors to their clients too.

Also, the monetary policy has resulted in very low interest rates, even lower than U.S. rates, he said. A low supply of new units, coupled with the low interest rates, has generated a large demand and has pushed up prices. A mixed-use development just outside of the Prague city center has duplexes in the $600,000-plus price range and condo prices roughly half that.

The developer shared that the green building movement is gaining some ground there.  However, like the U.S., the costs are relatively high and people have to think long-term to realize the increased investment.  The Czech Parliament has also had several discussions on policies such as set-asides for affordable housing units.

In a discussion with real estate broker and owner of Professionals Real Estate Consultants s.r.o. Tomáś Duda, we learned about some of the commercial trends in office space.  “Co-worker” style offices are becoming quite popular because they allow independent or small business owners to access communal spaces, administrative services and other office needs for a monthly fee as an alternative to leasing entire spaces. This has provided an affordable option for many business owners.

Borůvka is looking forward to learning more about Illinois while sharing information on the Czech real estate industry and European Union standards so our members can better guide clients who may want to invest or relocate there. The ARK website can be found at this link: and the CERI site is These are good resources to gain a better understanding of the European real estate industry.

“For us, it was extremely interesting to hear the news about the real estate market in Illinois,” Borůvka said. “It is always interesting to watch the development of the real estate market in a developed economy. Compare it with the development in our country. Many things can so easily be estimated in advance.”

Borůvka is happy to help NAR and Illinois REALTORS® interested in doing business in Europe or helping European clients here in the U.S.  He plans to attend the 2018 NAR Convention in Chicago to connect with Illinois REALTORS® and experience the rich Czech heritage the Chicagoland region enjoys.

Morning Minute: Housing Patterns in Red, Blue and Swing States

With tonight’s presidential debate on people’s minds, takes an interesting look at the different housing patterns in states where residents tend to lean Democrat, Republican or are more up for grabs in swing states. See the infographic below and read the full article, “Red vs. Blue States: What 8 Housing Differences Can Tell Us About the Election.” Here are a few takeaways:

  • Blue states tend to have older housing stock
  • Red states have the biggest homes
  • Homeownership rates are higher in red states


In other headlines:

Housing shortage eases in some markets – USA Today

New-home sales slip in August but top forecast – MarketWatch

GRI Grad Presenters Talk Video

It is estimated that by 2019, 80% of all content viewed online will be videos. Why? Videos grab attention quickly and can convey a lot of information in a short amount of time.

GRI Grad presenters Marki Lemons and Carrie Bey-Little believe that REALTORS® who master video production have a clear marketing advantage in the marketplace. Lemons and Bey-Little will provide valuable tips and tricks in their presentation: One Quick Video Equals Online Success at the GRI Grad Course, Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at the East Peoria Embassy Suites.

See a quick video preview below and view the entire speaker lineup on the GRI Grad webpage, and don’t forget to follow the GRI Event Page on Facebook and join the discussion on LinkedIn.


Wilson helps local children with her volunteer efforts



Like a great athlete who excels in just about any sport she attempts, Danville REALTOR® Millie Wilson has discovered multiple ways to volunteer in her community every year while serving as a managing broker for Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell, too.

“I guess what’s motivated me to be involved in several charities and nonprofit organizations during my career is my desire to make Vermilion County the best that it can be,” Wilson said. “Also, I care about the children. They are our future and I feel we need to do all we can for them to be able to succeed.

“There is a beautiful quote that expresses the way I feel,” she said. “It is by teacher-scholar Forest E. Witcraft: ‘A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. . .  But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.'”

The list of charities and nonprofit organizations she helps includes the Danville Public Library Foundation Board, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermilion County, AMBUCS, the Business Women of Vermilion County and a variety of charities helped by the Danville Area Board of REALTORS®, such as the Toys for Tots campaign in December.

“I have been involved with the Danville Public Library since 1995,” said Wilson. “I have served on the library foundation board for 13 years, and I am a past president. I have organized the book sales for the library three times a year for many years. The money raised from these sales goes back into the library, making it a better place for the people of this community, especially the children. For the last six years, I have been on the planning committee for the foundation’s annual fundraiser, too.”

A past president of the local Big Brother Big Sisters organization, she has served on its board of directors and participated in Bowl for Kids Sake many times. This year, she also helped with the Glow Crazy 5K Fun Run and Afterparty.

She also has helped the Danville chapter of AMBUCS conduct a home show for many years. Its mission is to provide: community service for people with disabilities; Amtryke therapeutic tricycles to individuals unable to operate a traditional bicycle; and academic scholarships for therapists. The charity started in Birmingham, AL (as the American Business Clubs) in 1922 dedicated to helping people with disabilities. In 1961, the name changed to AMBUCS.

Members of the organization Business Women of Vermilion County raise money for scholarships for young women who might not otherwise continue their education, she says. Formerly Business & Professional Women’s club, it raises money for scholarships for young women who might not otherwise be able to continue their education. “I have done this since 1995. I was not able to attend college and wanted to help young women further their education. Our group implemented the Choices Program in the Danville Schools system to make young women aware of the choices they will make in life. Teaching them to become self-sufficient, and the importance of this.”

Career in real estate

Wilson became a REALTOR® in 1990. She is a member and past president of the Danville Area Board of REALTORS® and served on many committees, including several times as chairs. She earned the REALTOR® of the Year Award in 2000 and 2012.

Read the Illinois REALTORS® blog for weekly stories about the community involvement of Illinois REALTORS® during the association’s 100th anniversary year. If you have an idea for a REALTOR® to highlight with an article, please send it to: bkozar@illinoisrealtors.orgTo read more stories like this one, go to: #MemberMonday

Opportunity Races: REALTORS® Yingling and McCombie for state representative



In the Nov. 8 general election, the Illinois REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) trustees encourage you to vote for incumbent State Rep. and REALTOR® Sam Yingling for reelection in the 62nd House District as well as challenger and REALTOR® Tony McCombie for state representative of the 71st House District.

Both Yingling and McCombie have been identified by their local associations and by RPAC as REALTOR® champions; pro-business, pro-private property rights, low tax and pro-growth candidates. Their bids to get elected are termed Opportunity Races.

Yingling was elected as state representative in 2012 and 2014. Prior to that, he served as the Avon Township supervisor in Lake County. He is part of a family owned business, New Century Real Estate in Round Lake. In 2014, he was the chief House sponsor of SB 2664, a key initiative in the spring session of the General Assembly.

He serves on several committees for the General Assembly:

  • Appropriations – General Service;
  • Counties & Townships;
  • Financial Institutions;
  • Renewable Energy & Sustainability;
  • Vice Chair for State Government Administration;
  • Agency Operations Subcommittee;
  • Government Process Subcommittee; and
  • Special Bills Subcommittee.

He’s been an Illinois REALTOR® since 2002.



McCombie is the mayor of Savanna in northwestern Illinois, along the Mississippi River in Carroll County. She first won election as mayor in 2012. Prior to that, she served on the Savanna City Council, for Wards 1 and 2. She is a broker for the Mel Foster Co. in Savanna, and the owner of Blue Appraisals, LLC, a real estate appraisal company that serves Illinois and Iowa. McCombie became a REALTOR® in 2003.

If Yingling or McCombie are on your ballot, make sure you’re registered to vote and cast your ballot on Nov. 8.

(Disclosure: Contributions are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. The Illinois REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC) collects contributions from members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) for political activities. A portion of each contribution will be used for state political activities; at least 30 percent will be used for federal campaign purposes. The federal portion will be charged against an individual’s federal contribution limits under 2 USC 441a. Contributions are VOLUNTARY and refusal to contribute does not affect membership rights. A member may contribute more or less than the suggested amount. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board’s official website or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.)