County boards of review – the agencies mandated to hear property assessment appeals – are required by state law to annually craft and promulgate rules “for the guidance of persons doing business with the Board and for the orderly dispatch of business.”
The rules are usually pretty mundane, but one recent Lake County Board of Review (BOR) proposed rule brought special scrutiny from REALTORS®.
The rule required printouts from a multiple listing service submitted as evidence be “full agent” listing sheets rather than “client” listing sheets.
Not only did such a rule conflict with the rules of Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), Lake County’s MLS, but it would have put the security and privacy of REALTORS and their clients at risk. “Agent only” information contains sensitive information such as cooperating commission agreements, lockbox codes, and member identification numbers.
Privacy and security concerns are amplified when “agent only” information is submitted as evidence to a BOR because it then becomes a matter of public record subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
“We are unable to identify any value to the BOR in obtaining our members MRED identification numbers, showing instructions, lockbox codes, and the like,” testified Howard Handler, Government Affairs Director for the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® (Lake County) and North Shore – Barrington Association of REALTORS®. The BOR agreed and modified their rules to accept “client” listing sheets as evidence.
“This was a simple oversight by the Board,” says Handler. “It’s not like they set out to put REALTORS® and their clients at risk, but if we [REALTORS] are not there to catch it nobody will.”