City Council says no to Joliet property transfer tax increase

REALTOR® Donna Billings addresses the Joliet City Council while REALTOR® Mark Meers listens behind her.

REALTOR® Donna Billings addresses the Joliet City Council while REALTOR® Mark Meers listens behind her.

Joliet/Will County REALTORS® accomplished a victory for the local economy Tuesday night as the Joliet City Council unanimously voted down an effort to increase the city’s real estate transfer tax by 66 percent.

A real estate transfer tax increase from $3 per $1,000 value to $5 per $1,000 was one of several ideas proposed to generate revenue in the city’s 2016 budget.  A REALTOR® Call for Action against the idea and testimony from IAR local Government Affairs Director Gideon Blustein at a special city council meeting last week led some to believe the city manager would remove the item from the budget. However, late in the week, the Council decided to move ahead with a public hearing and vote to send the increase to referendum.

Gideon Blustein

REALTORS® rallied to the cause, filling the council chambers and providing personal testimony. Blustein framed the increase as a measure that would have unintended consequences for Joliet’s fragile housing recovery, such as giving neighboring communities without real estate transfer taxes a greater competitive advantage. REALTOR® testimony illustrated how the economic costs would outweigh the projected $1.1 million in City revenues.

When the resolution was called for a vote, there was a tense silence before Councilman Jim McFarland offered a motion to deny the increase. The motion to deny was seconded and quickly passed with unanimous support from the council.

This victory for Joliet’s housing market illustrates the power we have when we rally together to protect private property rights. It truly demonstrates the #PowerofR.

CAR assists with holiday toy and outerwear drive

Through Friday (Dec. 4), the Chicago Association of REALTORS (CAR) and its members are providing four drop-off locations for donations to the Advocates for Adolescent Mothers’ Holiday Toy and Outerwear Drive, benefitting Chicago’s homeless adolescent mothers and their children.

realtors_give_back_xmas_BLOGCAR is collecting new unwrapped toys for children 12 and under, although no stuffed animals will be accepted, for the nonprofit organization named Advocates for Adolescent Mothers. New or gently-used coats, scarves, hats and gloves are also being accepted at these locations:

  • CAR offices, 200 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 400;
  • Su Familia Real Estate, (attention Gaspar Flores, Jr.), 5417 S. Pulaski Road;
  • Midwest Lending Corporation (attention Coby Hakalir), 1732 W. Hubbard St., Second Floor; and
  • Inez Drayton, 7752 S. Greenwood Ave.

Advocates for Adolescent Mothers was founded in Chicago by Lillian Harris five years ago to help fight poverty, prevent child abuse, advocate against homelessness and support college education for young mothers. The organization is dedicated to giving young parents the tools, resources and support to prosper.

CAR logo 2015CAR Chief Executive Officer Ginger Downs and CAR Senior Executive Assistant Jay Turner will deliver donations to Advocates for Adolescent Mothers on Dec. 4.

(This blog post is one in a series of blog posts about charitable community work performed by local Illinois REALTORS® during the last six weeks of the year. To see all the stories in the series, search for “charitable giving.”)


Brookfield changes home inspection ordinance for resale

Yellow road sign with turn symbol isolated on white background

Image courtesy of Bigstock

The resale of Brookfield single-family homes and multi-unit homes with three units or less is exempt from the village inspection process due to a new requirement for private home inspections and certification, says Tom Joseph, local IAR Government Affairs Director.

“We consider this a very unique and different process,” Joseph says. “The village had required a ‘point-of-sale’ inspection but is now relinquishing this requirement and RVOICE helped assure a more equitable process. In this new process, the village is not requiring private inspection reports to be filed with the village or attempting to hold up sales. The board just wants it documented that PRIVATE home inspections take place.”

Tom Joseph

Tom Joseph

According to Brookfield’s amended ordinance, private home inspectors must certify that sellers’ properties have been inspected according to Illinois licensing standards as well as those set by either the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. Inspectors fill out the Resale Certification of Compliance form and share written private inspection reports with purchasers. Joseph says the reports are not required to be shared with the village.

To comply with the amended ordinance, the sellers must certify that a private home inspection was completed with the village, says Joseph, who is happy that Brookfield no longer is performing point of sale inspections in these circumstances. “We have dozens of local governments that conduct local home inspections, and they often lead to buyers walking away from purchases,” he says.

Bradley rescinds ordinance after 6-plus years

Filling Glass Of Tap Water

Bigstock Photo

The village of Bradley (Kankakee County, pop. 16,000) repealed a “water certificate” ordinance that KIFAR and IAR’s local government affairs team have opposed since before it took effect in July 2009.

The ordinance was originally created and approved by the Bradley village board as a means to collect outstanding water and sewer bills. In return for making full payments, property owners would get “water certificates” for transfer of property.

IAR local Government Affairs Director Tom Joseph gave five reasons REALTORS® opposed the ordinance in the non-home-rule municipality:

  1. Non-home-rule municipalities must follow Illinois law for collection of water and sewer charges.
  2. The village told the Kankakee County recorder of deeds not to allow transfers without village certificates of approval.
  3. The village told title companies not to allow transfers without village certificate approvals. (The recorder of deeds and title companies are governed by the Illinois General Assembly not municipal governments, which created conflict with this ordinance.)
  4. Without home-rule and the approval of a real estate transfer tax by residents via referendum, Bradley was not authorized to use this certificate.
  5. The village was holding up real estate transfers unless billing was paid in full or future prorated billing was paid in advance at transfer.

GAD battles

“Due to our R-VOICE program and consistent review by our local government affairs program, our advocacy won out and the ordinance was repealed in late October,” says Joseph, who noted that a real estate transfer was held up earlier this year by the ordinance. “There is nothing more professionally satisfying than when a village rescinds an ordinance due to our advocacy.

“I’d like to extend special thanks to KIFAR leadership, IAR counsel, Sorling Northrup Attorneys and our local government affairs program for not allowing bad public policy to continue,” he said. “And lastly, I’d like to thank the village of Bradley for doing the right thing.”

Short-term rental bans become growing issue for local associations

Bigstock Photo

Bigstock Photo

With a growing number of communities seeking to ban or limit short-term property rentals for services like Airbnb or Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO), local associations and their government affairs directors are working harder to stay on top of these types of situations.

Take, for example, the efforts of the North Shore-Barrington Association of REALTORS® (NSBAR) and local IAR GAD Howard Handler, who says the issue is not new to his area but it is becoming a “hot topic.”

Handler says the question caused debate several years ago in the city of Evanston, just north of Chicago. There, an ordinance was passed in June 2013 requiring owners to obtain a special license for short-term rentals. NSBAR was neutral on the license issue, but won exceptions for disasters, renovations and rent-backs (when owners sell their home but are unable to move out by the closing date and need to temporarily rent the home back from the new owners). It even won a provision that lets all owners rent their property once a year without a license.

Examples of situations like Evanston’s are described in the Oct. 20 NAR story, “The Next Property Rights Frontier,” by Carolyn Schwaar.

“We took the position that we were not there to advocate for those running quasi-hotels and remained neutral on the final ordinance, but we did want to ensure the average property owner maintains the right to rent their property on a short-term basis,” Handler was quoted.

The article also cites the numbers of properties listed with Airbnb, the subject of taxes that owners may have to pay on revenue from short-term rentals. It offers guidance to associations in a white paper, but does not take an official stance on short-term rentals. Read the entire article and find out why.