About Jon Broadbooks

Jon Broadbooks is Vice President/Communications for Illinois REALTORS®. He serves as editor of online and print content for the association's communications including the Illinois REALTOR® magazine and e-newsletters. He conducts spokesperson training seminars and oversees website development for the Association.

Bigger brokerages share their take on state’s real estate economy in survey

A survey of brokers with the state’s larger real estate firms found 85 percent thought the single-family housing market would be very good or good in the next six months.

Illinois REALTORS® launched the short survey, Illinois Top 200 Monthly Market Pulse, earlier this month to better gauge emerging trends affecting real estate practitioners in Illinois. The survey will seek market sentiment information, as well as include a changing list of questions relating to the industry.

The survey goes to the largest firms throughout the state, and Illinois REALTORS® encourages those who are getting the survey to fill it out.

Other results from the 71 people who participated included optimism about the condo market, with nearly two-thirds indicating they thought the outlook in this segment would be very good or good.

Nearly 80 percent of those taking the survey said they thought the rental market would remain robust.

Respondents were asked to comment on the biggest challenge facing them right now, and not surprisingly a lack of inventory was often mentioned.

CAR opens new offices; Illinois REALTORS® shares space

Illinois REALTORS® President Doug Carpenter speaks at a ribbon cutting for the Chicago Association of REALTORS® in Chicago. In background is Matt Silver, CAR president, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Illinois REALTORS® has offices in the CAR space. Photo: Jon Broadbooks

Illinois REALTORS® celebrated the addition of office space in Chicago on Tuesday as part of a reception honoring the Chicago Association of REALTORS®’ move to a new headquarters.

CAR recently moved from its old offices on South Michigan Avenue to the eighth floor of the REALTOR® Building on North Michigan Avenue. The transition was celebrated with a ribbon cutting and reception at the offices on Tuesday.

REALTOR® Nykea Pippion-McGriff, NAR President-elect Elizabeth Mendenhall, REALTOR® Zeke Morris and REALTOR® Sarah Ware at a ribbon cutting for the Chicago Association of REALTORS® on Tuesday.

As part of the move, Illinois REALTORS® is subleasing offices in the CAR space for advocacy staff. The association also has retained space for a conference room.

“The Illinois Association has long needed a more permanent place for our growing staff, and it’s a natural fit for us to have offices and meeting space here among our Chicago association colleagues,” said Illinois REALTORS® President Doug Carpenter. “The unique three-way agreement of national, state and local organizations that is a hallmark of the REALTOR® organization is clearly embodied in this space.”

Illinois REALTORS® Treasurer Dan Wagner played a pivotal role in making the move into the headquarters of the National Association of REALTORS®. At the time the decision was made he was president of the Chicago association.

Bicentennial Plaza at Illinois REALTORS® headquarters one step closer to approval

The Bicentennial Plaza would be located on the north side of the Illinois REALTORS® headquarters in Springfield. A City Council vote is expected to finalize the plan in March. (Rendering by Massie Massie & Associates.

Illinois REALTORS® is one step closer to realizing an ambitious project which would transform a parking lot at the association’s Springfield headquarters into a plaza commemorating the state’s 200th birthday.

The association’s plan for the Bicentennial Plaza was approved by the Springfield Economic Development Commission on Tuesday. It calls for funding a portion of the $2.6 million project with $1 million from the city’s downtown tax increment financing district.

The funding plan now goes to the Springfield City Council for approval, likely in March.

If built, the plaza would be located on the north side of the association’s headquarters on South Fifth Street. The plans call for a tree-lined plaza that could be used for civic events, and potentially might tie into a broader plan to revitalize the Jackson Street corridor. A vacant bank branch building on the association’s property would be removed to make way for the project and the association would lose some of its parking places.

“Illinois REALTORS® has been a part of the downtown area on and off for decades,” said association President Doug Carpenter. “This project would complement the downtown area our association calls home, and it would help commemorate the state’s 200th birthday. It’s a positive development for Illinois REALTORS®, but the primary beneficiaries would be Springfield residents who will have a space that could be used for community events or to enhance tourism.”

Illinois REALTORS® recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, and has grown to represent more than 44,000 members engaged in all aspects of the real estate business. The association has been in its current location for 10 years.

Jackson Street extends from the Lincoln Home National Historic Site to the REALTORS® property between Fifth and Sixth streets. It then runs past the Executive Mansion to the grounds of the Illinois Capitol. Although nothing has been decided, one plan would be to redevelop the entire corridor, making Bicentennial Plaza a component of a broader revitalization effort to tie together the historic sites.

A former thee-story brick YWCA building adjacent to the association’s headquarters was razed this month, and city officials are considering how that lot and a neighboring parking lot will be used. The lot is across Jackson Street from the Executive Mansion, which is undergoing renovation.

Illinois REALTORS® has a Bicentennial Task Force that is working on readying the trade association for commemoration of the state’s 200th birthday. The plaza project would fit nicely with a theme of “REALTORS® Working with Heart in Every Community.”

“REALTORS® play a huge role in shaping the communities they live in, and this park would be an enduring monument to our mission of supporting and improving the places we all call home,” said Vicky Turner, a Dixon REALTOR® and the chair of the task force.

Illinois REALTORS® already has plans to engage many of its local associations in a campaign to adopt a historic property in recognition of the state’s milestone birthday. The campaign is still developing, but Turner said the local REALTOR® associations are encouraged to look at where they can make a difference, whether through donations of time, materials or money.

Tax rewrite could weaken incentive to buy homes, NAR expert warns

Illinois REALTORS® here from Evan Liddiard with NAR about the possible impacts of tax reform at a Federal Taxation Town Hall in Lisle on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Federal tax code changes could have a dramatic impact on the real estate industry and consumers who count benefitting from the mortgage interest deduction, a tax expert from the National Association of REALTORS® said on Wednesday.

NAR’s Evan Liddiard.

“This is an exciting time, and sometimes it’s so exciting that I wish we could settle it down a bit,” said Evan Liddiard, senior policy representative for federal taxation at the National Association of REALTORS®. He was speaking at a Federal Taxation Town Hall sponsored by Illinois REALTORS® in Naperville.

(Get copies of Liddiard’s presentation here. )

Liddiard, who spent 20 years working on tax policy for U.S. Sen. Orin Hatch, said there are many factors that go into true tax reform, and even with Republican control of the House, Senate and the White House complications inevitably will arise.

Liddiard said broad consensus exists on both sides of the political aisle in some areas, particularly when it comes to corporate income tax rates. The corporate rates are among the highest in the world.

Of particular concern to REALTORS® would be the impact tax code changes might have on the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID). One possible scenario would be to dramatically increase the standard tax deduction, which would dampen the value of itemizing on a tax return. Since the MID is a big part of a decision to itemize, it could undercut the tax advantages of home ownership.

Liddiard showed comparison of how various plans proposed to reform the tax code would add up for a 33-year-old, single woman renting a $1,000-a-month apartment and earning $65,000 annually. Assuming the purchase if a $263,000 condo with a 5 percent down payment and principal and interest payments of $1,193, the tax benefits from itemized deductions would be about $3,325 annually, or $277 a month under current rules.

But under proposed tax plans, that annual benefit could drop anywhere to $650 a year to as low as $91 a year, he said.

“This could demolish a tax incentive to buy a home,” he said.

In commercial real estate there are a number of proposals, including allowing immediate expensing for buildings and eliminating the 1031 Like-Kind Exchange. Liddiard said the 1031 Exchange elimination would be felt in the industry as research has shown that 63 percent of REALTORS® have been involved in the transactions which allow deferral of taxes if sale proceeds are reinvested.

Among those attending the session was Illinois REALTORS® Treasurer Dan Wagner who said while he was worried about proposed changes. he was optimistic that REALTORS® could fend off damaging changes.

“Our secret weapon is that we have 1.23 million very involved people willing to answer calls for action,” Wagner said. “That’s a very scary thing for them (policymakers.) Members and staff know we are a force of nature.”

Robert E. “Bob” Cook dies; led Illinois REALTORS® for 28 years

Former Illinois REALTORS® Executive Vice President Robert E. “Bob” Cook, who ushered in an era of modernization and growth for the trade association during his 28-year tenure, died Wednesday in Colorado.

A Celebration of Life will be 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, in the dining hall of the Liberty Heights assisted living center.

Cook is one of only three executives to lead Illinois REALTORS®, joining the organization at a time when the association’s annual budget was a scant $20,000. By the time Cook retired in 1984, the organization had grown to 23,000 members and had had been transformed into a leader in the fight to protect private property rights. Its budget had grown to $2.5 million.

“Illinois REALTORS® just celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, and it was humbling to look back through the archives and see how much of an impact Bob Cook had for more than a quarter of the organization’s existence,” said Illinois REALTORS® President Doug Carpenter. “Bob came to the association at a pivotal time, and his work created a firm foundation for growth and institutional strength that lasts to this day.”

Cook was hired by Illinois REALTORS®, then known as the Illinois Association of Real Estate Boards, in 1956. The association, founded in 1916, had weathered two world wars and the Great Depression. Cook’s hiring coincided with the housing boom of the 1950s.

Under his tenure, the association reached a number of notable milestones, including the establishment of the Illinois Real Estate Educational Foundation, the Graduate REALTOR® Institute program and what is now called the Illinois REALTORS® Licensing and Training Center. Cook presided over the groundbreaking for the association’s then-headquarters on Adloff Lane in 1972, and formed what is now Illinois REALTOR® magazine.

“Bob always had a vision for making the REALTOR® voice heard throughout the state and the industry,” said Illinois REALTORS® CEO Gary Clayton. “Bob’s work guaranteed that our now 44,000-plus members are known by the highest standards of professionalism, and he deserves tremendous credit for galvanizing member support for taking a greater role in advocacy at the state level.”

Cook helped guide the association through a landmark 1966 case which defined the legal role brokers can play in real estate transactions. In 1978, the association won a court battle which placed the state firmly in control of real estate licensees instead of local governments.

The association’s growth was marked by greater member engagement. During Cook’s time as executive vice president the association began holding its annual Capitol Conference and Spring Conference, fixtures in the REALTOR® calendar to this day. He was recognized as the Illinois REALTOR® of the Year in 1979.

The Robert E. Cook scholarship is awarded through REEF to students seeking training in association management.

Cook’s departure came as he helped usher the association through a financial crisis in in the early 1980s where interest rates soared past 18 percent.

Leo Sheridan, 1982 Illinois REALTORS® president, recalled in a video chronicling the association’s first century that Cook had an unwavering ability to think about what was next.

“Bob Cook always thought ahead about what was provided to the membership and what he had to do as an officer of the association, and how to make it work year after year after year,” Sheridan said. “He was interested in the association and making it a success — keeping it alive.”

After he retired from Illinois REALTORS®, Cook became a founding member of Cook-Witter, a lobbying firm in Springfield. He moved to Colorado Springs to be near family in 1995.


Survivors include his wife of 67 years, Jean; son, Robin, and daughters Cindy and Terri. Another daughter, Judy is deceased.  Cards may be sent to Jean Cook, Liberty Heights, 12105 Ambassador Drive, Apartment 581, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Emails can be sent to recjpc-1@comcast.net.