Advocacy goes global

This week the IAR leadership and staff participated in a education event for the Republic of Ghana, which sent representatives of its Parliament to learn how Illinois regulates and practices real estate.

Hosted by IAR member, Vicky Sampah, a Ghanian, this day-long event included several speakers and provided the delegation with an enormous amount of information on license law, continuing education, finance, public/private partnering, multiple listing service, association structure and several other components.

The Republic of Ghana currently does not have a regulated real estate industry and this has caused problems and uncertainty in its marketplace.  Sampah made a commitment to her home country to help lead an effort to formalize and professionalize her industry.  She has already been successful in organizing a professional trade organization there and is working with the National Association of REALTORS® on a bilateral agreement.  Her passion and commitment has resulted in her ability to host key decision makers from Ghana in the United States so they can learn and understand how a balanced regulated industry can contribute to much success in a national economy.

The IAR highlighted different areas of the industry through presentations by the IAR Leadership Team. Jim Kinney, President, Mike Drews, President-Elect and Doug Carpenter, Treasurer shared information on how to represent buyers and sellers as well as the importance of professional development and education to become the “trusted advisor” of real estate consumers. Bill Caton, Vice-Chair of the IAR Commercial Committee gave a presentation on the importance of including commercial real estate in their efforts in addition to sharing information on his role as a broker-owner and how to run and manage a real estate office.

IAR Director of Governmental Affairs Greg St. Aubin and IAR Housing Policy Advisor Sharon Gorrell also contributed to the discussion. St. Aubin spoke on some of the components of the proposed draft of their licensing act in addition to the importance of collaboration with the industry they are going to regulate.  Gorrell spoke about housing finance and how the state of Illinois and the federal government expand access to mortgage lending through down payment programs and loan options through IHDA and FHA.

Another component to the program was a presentation from a member of the Illinois Legislature. Illinois State Rep. Marcus Evans (33rd District) presented the “Government Perspective” on regulating an industry, the importance of a healthy and inclusive housing market and why housing plays a huge role in economic development for a state and a nation.  As the Chairman of the Economic Development and Housing Committee of the Legislature, he made some important points on affordable housing, senior housing and the importance of the IAR’s involvement in the legislative process.

Also participating in the day were: Kate Sax, Director of Ethical Practices, Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®; Midwest Real Estate Data CEO, Rebecca Jensen; and Katie Stouffs-Grimes, Stacey Moncrieff and Joe Schneider from the NAR Global and Commercial Division.

The delegation will also meet with CCIM and REALTOR® University while here in the United States.

IHDA announces new home loan plan in 10 counties

Photo courtesy of Bigstock

Starting today, first-time home buyers, veterans and those who haven’t owned a home in three years can apply for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage through a program from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) that includes $7,500 in cash assistance for down payments and closing costs.

The 1st Home Illinois program is available in Boone, Cook, DeKalb, Fulton, Kane, Marion, McHenry, St. Clair, Will and Winnebago counties – areas hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. If you’re a REALTOR® who serves clients in one of these counties, you’ll want to be a resource for those interested in this program, which offers an interest rate as low as 4.125 percent.

According to the IHDA, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund is providing the down payment assistance. IHDA estimates that up to 4,000 qualified families will be served by the $30 million approved for the project. Illinois is the second state to launch a down payment assistance program using Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) and one of three states that have approval to use HHF resources to prevent future foreclosures by improving demand and helping to stabilize housing prices.

Loans can be secured through the Federal Housing Authority, the Veterans’ Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture and through conventional means. However, funds are limited for this IHDA program. To find out about income limitations, qualified lenders and how you can get fliers about it, you can read today’s IHDA press release, visit or call 1-877-456-2656.

Call for Action approaching target; take part now to stop patent trolls

Illinois REALTORS® are joining colleagues across the nation in calling on Congress to address the issue of patent trolls. A national Call for Action was issued two weeks ago, and Illinois is closing in on a goal of having 20 percent of its members write to federal elected officials to tell them this problem must be addressed.

The map above shows participation rates by IAR’s local associations through 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. The Decatur Association of REALTORS® leads in responses with more than 40 percent of its members sending emails to federal lawmakers. Overall, more than 18 percent of IAR’s members have responded to the Call for Action. (The Northern Illinois Commercial Association of REALTORS®, which due to technical reasons is not listed on the map, has a 7.12 percent response rate.)

The Call for Action targets so-called patent trolls, companies or individuals who buy up or claim patents that can be broadly applied to basic technology. The patent trolls often send demand letters claiming their rights have been violated for things as simple as fax machines and drop-down menus on a website.

The National Association of REALTORS® issued the call because patent trolls can have a huge impact on small businesses. Faced with fighting a lengthy legal fight, many companies choose to pay the patent trolls’ demands rather than risk an expensive court battle.

If you haven’t responded to the Call for Action, do so today. Click here to make your voice heard.

REALTORS® participate in Chicago legislative symposium

(l to r) Tracey Taylor, Greg Mitchell, Howard Brookins, Walter Burnett, Leslie Hairston, Rod Sawyer, Michael Scott, Jr., Toni Foulkes, Will Burns, David Moore, Pat Dowell and Mark Buford.

The Chicago Association of REALTORS® (CAR) and the Dearborn REALTIST® Board co-hosted a Legislative Symposium for the City of Chicago’s City Council Black Caucus at U.S. Cellular Field (home of the Chicago White Sox) last week.

Dearborn is keen to address the inequities that plagued the housing market generations ago and used this opportunity to make sure the history is understood so it is not repeated.  Dearborn had more than two dozen members in attendance with one of the most esteemed being Frank Williams, previous president of both CAR and Dearborn. Williams personifies the bridge that was made between the two organizations and how important is to make sure these type of joint events continue.

Current Dearborn President, Tracey Taylor also a former officer of CAR provided opening remarks.  CAR volunteer leadership was represented by Sarah Ware, Vice Chairperson of Public Policy and current and future board members, Sonia Anaya and Nykea Pippion-McGriff.

Photo courtesy of Bigstock

Two presentations were made by Dearborn REALTIST® Board Members Mark Buford and Gerald Williams (Williams currently serves as CAR Fair Housing Forum Chairperson). The presentations were titled, “Democracy in Housing” and “Driving Community Economic Growth: Opportunities for Chicago Communities.”

Well into the 21st Century, REALTORS® are recognized as leaders of economic development and neighborhood improvements. REALTORS® have a fiduciary motivation in seeing neighborhoods thrive. Good schools, safe communities and amenities, such as coffee shops and cuisine of various price points, are things all REALTORS® want.  Having them on the south side and west side of Chicago is good for all of Chicago.

After the presentations, the audience was addressed by Black Caucus Chairman Roderick Sawyer of the 6th Ward (Greater Grand Crossing, West Chesterfield and Chatham). Future initiatives and synergies between the Dearborn REALTIST® Board and the Black Caucus include crafting a legislative agenda.

CAR was glad to provide the assistance needed to make this meeting happen. Dearborn President Taylor said, “The Dearborn REALTIST® Board would like to express its gratitude for the collaboration on this and future events.” The meeting was one of the tenets of the strategic partnership agreement executed by CAR and the Dearborn REALTIST® Board.

Aldermen in attendance included:

  • Pat Dowell (3rd Ward),
  • Will Burns (4th Ward),
  • Leslie Hairston (5th Ward),
  • Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward),
  • Greg Mitchell (7th Ward),
  • Toni Foulkes (16th Ward),
  • David Moore (17th Ward),
  • Howard Brookins (20th Ward) and
  • Michael Scott, Jr. (24th Ward).

Morning Minute: Tips for turning your backyard into a summer oasis

Image: Bigstock

Want a place to unwind and enjoy the outdoors? Look no further than your own backyard with decorating and renovation ideas, “7 Ideas to Help You Use Your Outdoor Space More,” from HouseLogic. Read the article for a full list of ideas but here are a few quick takeaways:

  • Decorate your patio or deck with comfortable outdoor furniture; lay down an outdoor rug to make the area more inviting.
  • Add outdoor lighting so that you can use the space into the night; light walkways, stairs and steps.
  • Build a fire pit, an outdoor playhouse  and other features that will entice people to spend more time outdoors.

In other headlines:

Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs are hot properties again – Chicago Tribune

Infographic: Spring Buying Season Extends Into Summer – KCM Blog

Why Hispanic Home Ownership Is Falling – NAR Daily Real Estate News