REALTORS® put themselves in clients’ shoes when they visit Lake County government offices

Circuit Judge Daniel Jasica helped REALTORS® understand evictions so they can be better resources for landlords and tenants. See photo gallery at bottom of this story.

Lake County REALTORS® braved unprecedented flooding and closed roads to attend a special, REALTOR®-only real estate related walking tour of Lake County government offices Monday.

REALTORS® met with Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer to learn more about the recording process and how to access real estate records, then met Treasurer David Stolman to learn more about property tax bills and collections. Circuit Court Judge Luis A. Berrones taught them about the foreclosure mediation program, Circuit Court Judge Daniel L. Jasica spoke about evictions, and Chief County Assessment Officer Martin P. Paulson explained about the property assessment process and appeals.

Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor was scheduled to appear but he and numerous REALTORS® were unable to attend due to area flooding.

Outreach and advocacy help REALTORS® build relationships in local communities

(l to r) Gideon Blustein, Local GAD Illinois REALTORS®; Matt Persicketti, Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® President; Larry Walsh, Will County Executive; Martha Sojka, Will County Land Use Department; Curt Paddock, Will County Land Use Director; and David McClintock, Three Rivers CEO.

The Illinois REALTORS® Outreach Team points out some of the reasons why REALTORS® are making positive impacts in their own communities in the July Illinois REALTOR® article, “What common values connect Illinois REALTORS®?

Sometimes elected officials show their thanks for REALTOR® support with ceremonies like the one captured by photographers in April in Joliet. At that time, the Will County Land Use Department Community Development Division recognized the Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® for promoting and protecting the tenets of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (photo above).

Community Development Director Ron Pullman stated, “Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® has been an excellent partner in our mission to affirmatively further the goals of the Fair Housing Act.”

Three Rivers’ Board President Matt Persicketti accepted the proclamation saying, “While assisting people buy and sell homes, it is the duty of REALTORS® to encourage flourishing communities that are open to everyone.”

The Fair Housing Act originally recognized four protected classes:  race, color, religion and national origin. Sex was added as a protected class in 1974 followed by disability and familial status in 1988. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development website states that the purpose of the Act is “to eliminate housing discrimination and create equal opportunity in every community so that every person can live free.” See our Fair Housing resources.

All REALTORS® must abide by The National Association of REALTORS© Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice which outlines duties that REALTORS® have to clients and customers, the public, and other REALTORS®.  Article 10 of the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics provides that, “REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Illinois agencies join Illinois REALTORS® in industry forum with Ghanaian delegation

Greg St. Aubin (standing) was just one of many who shared information about the real estate industry with visitors from Ghana.

Real estate industry representatives and elected members of Parliament from the Republic of Ghana visited Chicago Wednesday to learn about how Illinois REALTORS® practice and regulate real estate in Illinois. They also learned how we work to promote Illinois and expand opportunities for homeownership.

The day began at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) offices with Kreg Allison, Director of Real Estate for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) outlining the basic regulatory infrastructure. Greg St. Aubin, Illinois REALTORS® Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, explained how we interact with the IDFPR and then shared some thoughts on the potential real estate regulatory policy that the Parliamentarians are considering.

Mike Drews, Immediate Past President of the association, shared the process that REALTORS® follow to help buyers and sellers purchase and sell homes. He discussed agency and how REALTORS® protect consumers and serve their clients.

REALTOR® Vicky Sampah, Vice Chair of the Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council, spearheaded this study visit and is committed to helping her home country become more organized and professionalized. She began by going back to Ghana and helping real estate practitioners form their own association, now known as the Ghana Real Estate Professionals Association (GREPA). Her most recent victory is helping to facilitate a bilateral agreement with the NAR so GREPA members can be international members of NAR.

The day continued with Erik Brejla from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. He shared information on Illinois infrastructure and amenities. The delegates took away some ideas on how to promote Ghana and its assets.

The day ended with a breakout session led by Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) Assistant Executive Director Debra Olsen and Managing Director of Homeownership Tara Pavlik. They explained how Illinois promotes access to housing through down payment programs for first-time home buyers and helps fund the development of new affordable housing. Ghana is considering an agency similar to IHDA, so many of the members were taking notes and asking questions. Sharon Gorrell, Policy Advisor for Global Business, highlighted how Congress sets the policies, agencies like HUD develop the rules and distribute the funds and then IHDA administers the dollars.

Another breakout session focused on advocacy. Michael Scobey, Director of Local and Global Programs, facilitated that discussion and shared examples of talking points Illinois REALTORS® have used in the past. Also, he helped them understand the importance of an organized and unified voice.

Having a consistent and informed message will help Ghana’s real estate practitioners have a voice in their own regulation and facilitate the growth of the real estate profession.

Sullivan advocates for property tax freeze during Committee of the Whole meeting Friday

Illinois REALTORS®Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Julie Sullivan prepared to speak during a Committee of the Whole hearing in the Illinois House of Representatives on Friday.  Source: Illinois General Assembly

The Illinois General Assembly has been back in Springfield this week for a special session, and Illinois REALTORS® Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Julie Sullivan testified before a Committee of the Whole held in the Illinois House on Friday.

Sullivan was part of a series of speakers on Friday advocating for a property tax freeze. A freeze is a subject of negotiation as lawmakers grapple with how to pass a budget for the state. Sullivan said this was the first time in her decades at the association she had been asked to present before a Committee of the Whole.

Because Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the U.S., Illinois REALTORS® has long advocated for some type of property tax relief.

High property taxes are preventing young consumers across the state from becoming first-time home buyers, said Sullivan, while other homeowners say they can make their house payments but struggle to pay their property taxes. Senior citizens can feel the effects of rising property taxes when their incomes are fixed.

“It affects all levels of homeowners and small businesses as well,” said Sullivan. “It has a cascading effect.”

Sullivan said the association is also supportive of measures which would allow for consolidation of some of the state’s record number of taxation districts.

Illinois leads the U.S. in the number of government entities, and Illinois REALTORS® has long held that there is a direct correlation between the number of taxing bodies and the high level of property taxes.


Elwood nixes 2-year old fire sprinkler mandate

Source: Bigstock

It all started with a text message.

Nearly a year later, the village of Elwood killed a policy mandating costly fire sprinkler systems be installed in all new residential construction.

The move on Wednesday is significant because Elwood stood alone in Will County as having the policy, one which property rights advocates say can add $10,000 or more to the cost of building a home.

REALTOR® Matt Persicketti

In that July 2016 text message to Illinois REALTORS® Member Outreach Manager and Local Government Affairs Director Gideon Blustein, Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® president-elect, Matt Persicketti texted Gideon to see what could be done about the Village’s strict requirement for residential fire sprinklers in all new construction.

Persicketti had a homebuilder client who had run into red-tape with the Village of Elwood in the middle of a construction project. Because of the sprinkler regulation, his future homeowners would ultimately have to pay more than $10,000 in unforeseen costs. The price was especially high because they had to have a special water main installed to accommodate the required sprinkler system.

The situation prompted Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® members and Blustein to repeatedly reach out to then Village President, William Offerman.

Offerman also serves as the Fire Chief in Elwood, and efforts to discuss the policy with him were unsuccessful.

Many weeks later, when Elwood hired a new Village Manager, REALTORS® finally got a meeting with the municipality’s staff.

Gideon Blustein, Illinois REALTORS®

In preparation, Blustein pulled the number of new residential building permits for Elwood and the surrounding communities; the numbers were staggering. While surrounding communities had seen steady growth over the past few years, Elwood’s growth was basically stagnant. Armed with these numbers and the RVOICE brochure, “The Impacts of Mandating Residential Fire Sprinklers,” Blustein met with the village’s staff. While they found the arguments compelling, they relayed that the issue was unlikely to gain favor with the village’s president and board.

In April, Offerman was ousted by a challenger, Todd Matichak, who stressed in his campaign that he wanted to see the sprinkler mandate rolled back.

In advance of Matichak’s first official meeting as Village President, he worked with the village board to shore up the votes necessary to repeal the residential fire sprinkler mandate.

Blustein assisted by sharing the RVOICE brochure and a letter outlining our opposition with Board members. Among the efforts to obtain a repeal:

  • REALTOR® Jim Sim

    Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® Immediate Past President Jim Sim stepped to the podium to speak out against the residential fire sprinkler mandate.

  • Blustein provided updated residential building permit statistics for areas surrounding Elwood which showed their growth as Elwood’s recorded stagnate numbers.
  • And the board was given as evidence the quote from the property owners whose case prompted the debate.

With arguments made, the vote on whether to repeal the residential fire sprinkler mandate was the final item on the June 21 agenda. The measure repealing the sprinkler mandate was adopted with a 5-1 vote in favor of repealing the fire sprinkler mandate.

After the meeting, property owners, builders and Blustein congratulated and thanked Matichak and board members for their leadership.

Matichak urged homebuilders to get to work building in the community.