REALTORS® travel to Texas to help hurricane victims in Houston area

REALTORS® Josh Weinberg (left) and Tommy Choi paused to take a photo during a break in hurricane cleanup last week in Katy, Texas.

“You walked inside a home and the smell of mold just hit you,” said Illinois REALTOR® Tommy Choi as he described his volunteer work near Houston last week.

A co-owner of Keller Williams Chicago — Lincoln Park, Choi joined thousands of Keller Williams real estate professionals who provided relief efforts to areas devastated by the torrential rains of Hurricane Harvey. “It was a very sobering feeling knowing the extent of the devastation.”

Choi was originally scheduled to attend the annual Keller Williams conference in Austin, but after the hurricane had such devastating effects, company leaders reorganized the event into a relief effort. Choi and his fellow volunteers jumped on busses at 7:30 a.m. every morning and rode two hours to the Houston area, then worked until 6 p.m. when the busses picked them up for return trips to their hotel. Volunteers worked in groups of 15, “de-mucking” homes flooded by as much as six feet of water.

In one home, volunteers were already working inside when the owners returned to see the devastation the flood waters had caused in their absence.  “It was an emotional day for them,” said Choi, who discovered a dead catfish on the kitchen floor. “Everything they owned was gone.”

Out to the curb they carried furniture, appliances and belongings destroyed by the water. They ripped up carpeting, tore out ruined flooring, and removed plasterboard and insulation marred by water and the subsequent mold. Only walls and wall hangings above the mold lines were salvaged, leaving skeletons of homes to dry out for the next part of the process to begin.

The satisfying part was the large amount of work the volunteers could accomplish in a day, at no charge to the residents. The distressing part, he said, was that the groups would have to move on to different houses the next day. So much more work needed to be done in individual homes and neighborhoods.

Though Choi estimated that Keller Williams volunteers helped clean up 95 homes during their week-long project, that still left more than 100,000 area homes to be cleaned. A post on the Keller Williams Realty Facebook page noted that more than 60,000 volunteer hours had been donated in 25 different locations.

“We couldn’t solve these families’ problems, but we could get them started on their recovery,” he said. “I’m a person that lives my life with gratitude daily, and this experience heightened that gratitude. “

(Editor’s Note: Since returning from Texas, Choi, co-founder Josh Weinberg and 29 of their associates who volunteered in Texas agreed they wanted to raise $100,000 for hurricane relief to help victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. On Wednesday, the Keller Williams Chicago – Lincoln Park team held an all-day, all-office telethon, raising $21,000 toward that goal. Here’s a link to their fundraising site.)

October issue of Illinois REALTOR® is on the way

Watch your mailbox in the coming days for the October 2017 issue of Illinois REALTOR® magazine.

Stories include:

But there’s so much more in this 36-page edition, with regular columns like:

  • Legal Update by Betsy Urbance, Illinois REALTORS® Director of Legal Services; Associate, Sorling Northrup Attorneys;
  • At the Capitol by Julie Sullivan, Director of Legislative and Political Affairs; and
  • RVOICE by Mike Scobey, Director of Local Advocacy and Global Programs.

Make sure you’re up-to-date on all that’s happening. Read Illinois REALTOR®!

Enjoy these photos of Oak Park Area Association of REALTORS®’ installation ceremony

2018 Illinois REALTORS® President Matt Difanis installed officers and directors of the OPAAR board.

On Sept. 12, the Oak Park Area Association of REALTORS® celebrated its 100th anniversary at its annual installation ceremony at the 100th Century Club in Oak Park.

The Oak Park Real Estate Board was established on July 24, 1917.

The 2018 officers are President John Lawrence, Vice President Jonathan Zivojnovic, Treasurer Alice McMahon, Secretary Erica Cuneen and Immediate Past President Jane McClelland.

Members of the board of directors are: Tom Carraher, David Gullo, Greer Haseman, Lisa Pasquesi, Swati Saxena and Laurie Shapiro.

Affiliate member Frank Pellegrini served as emcee for the evening. He’s the owner of Pellegrini & Cristiano and Prairie Title Services, Inc.

See the photo gallery below.

Order tickets by Oct. 6 for NAR Inaugural Gala, unique tours and attractions

If you’re planning to attend the REALTOR® Conference & Expo in Chicago Nov. 3-6 and plan to attend the Inaugural Gala, participate in a guided tour or visit a special attraction, you’ll want to order tickets online by Oct. 6.

The gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and feature the installation of 2018 NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall and the rest of the NAR Leadership Team. By ordering your ticket before Oct. 6, you will be assigned seating with other Illinoisans. Tickets are $150 each.

NAR has organized a variety of architecture and historic tours for members to enjoy. See Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, skyscrapers or view architecture by boat! Check out the Chicago Mobsters, Chicago Pizza or Chicago Neighborhoods tours. Or check out a variety of Chicago area attractions on your own. For many of these activities, you can save money by registering before Oct. 6. Find out more.


4 more ways for REALTORS® to stay safe and protect their customers

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) designates September as REALTOR® Safety Month and offers the following safety tips for your customers, colleagues and you:

  1. Tell your sellers: DON’T leave personal information like mail out in the open during showings and open houses. Be sure to put away and lock up your laptop and any other expensive, easy-to-pocket electronics and jewelry before all showings.
  2. Tell your clients not to show their home by themselves. Alert them that not all agents, buyers and sellers are who they say they are. Have them refer all inquiries to you.
  3. Be safe when shopping online. Make sure the website uses secure technology by verifying the URL on the checkout screen begins with https. If it doesn’t do not type in your credit card information.
  4. Have a crisis management plan for your office. Include events such as power outages, natural disasters, workplace violence, acts of terrorism and the outbreak of contagious diseases.

The NAR offers numerous safety resources to help real estate professionals safeguard client data and to protect themselves from attack or injury.