Illinois homes sales up 13.5 percent in September

Statewide home sales in September were up 13.5 percent year-over-year according to the Illinois Association of REALTORS® report issued today.  According to Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the University of Illinois Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL): “The housing market is showing some positive signs in terms of sales volume, yet prices remain lower and more sales are expected in the category of homes priced less than $100,000.”

A third of homes sold statewide in September (33.3%) were priced below $100,000; 67.2% below $200,000. The REAL forecast indicates that total home sales will be positive for October and November on a month-to-month and year-over-year basis: “A rather unexpected outcome for the last quarter of the year when the market typically cools down.”

October 2011 Forecast Chart: Illinois Home Sales

October 2011 Forecast Chart: Illinois Price Stratification




Introducing IAR’s Leadership Team for 2012

Loretta Alonzo

2012 IAR President Loretta Alonzo

Last night the Illinois Association of REALTORS® celebrated its new leadership for the year ahead as REALTOR® Loretta Alonzo, CRB, GRI, of Romeoville was installed as the 2012 president of our state association representing 44,000 Illinois REALTORS®.

Alonzo is a 36-year veteran of the real estate business and the broker-owner of Century 21 Alonzo & Associates in LaGrange Park. She is a past president of the Century 21 Chicagoland & NW Indiana Broker Council and past president of the West Suburban Chapter of the Women’s Council of REALTORS®.

“Challenges bring tomorrow’s opportunities, and that is a theme that hits close to home for me,” said Alonzo, to the crowd of more than 200 of her peers in Illinois real estate gathered for the installation ceremony.

Alonzo’s family history is a story of the American dream. Her grandfather came to America from Guadalajara, Mexico, working on the railroad through Texas and Colorado before arriving in Chicago.

Said Alonzo: “He came to America to find a better life. He and his wife Maria faced overwhelming challenges and hard work but persevered to build a life together for their family here in America. They never had the opportunity to be homeowners, but everyone of their six children did as well as all 26 of their grandchildren, including me.”

Alonzo, a member of the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®, is a two-term past president of the former West Towns Board of REALTORS®.  She is a licensed Illinois continuing education instructor and was named Woman of the Year by the Mexican-American Business & Professional Women’s Club. She is a past president of the Multiple Listing Service of Northern Illinois, now known as Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC.

REALTOR® Michael D. Oldenettel, CRS, GRI, managing broker-owner of RE/MAX Results Plus in Jacksonville was installed as the 2012 president-elect of the Illinois Association of REALTORS®.

REALTOR® Phil Chiles, ABR, CRS, GRI, broker-associate with the Real Estate Group in Springfield was installed as the 2012 Treasurer of the Illinois Association of REALTORS®.

Immediate Past President REALTOR® Sheryl Grider Whitehurst, ABR, CRB, GRI, e-PRO, managing broker of Traders Realty in Peoria, will continue to lend her expertise on the IAR Leadership Team after serving as president in 2011.

Get the Fever

Brian Copeland, CRSBrian Copeland, a top-producing REALTOR® in the Nashville, TN market energized Illinois REALTORS® in his opening session presentation, Fever: Redefining Your Business for today’s Market.  Copeland received the National Association of REALTORS® Technology Advocate Award in 2010 and is the 2011 National Young Professionals Network Board Chair.

Using a play on the classic song “Fever”, a 1960s recording by singer Peggy Lee, Copeland discussed how there has been various renditions of the recording by other artists through the generations. His point? To demonstrate how the message is central but the delivery evolves and change is inevitable. Here are some highlights of his session.

Redefinition #1 – Just like pop singers, REALTORS® have to reinvent themselves to stay relevant in today’s marketplace. Top pop musical artists today aren’t just singers, they are songwriters, actors, clothing line designers, etc. Explore unique strategies available through social media to market properties  it is not just about just using traditional media any longer. Social media allows you to have a billboard at your freedom and use each and every day.

Redefinition #2 – Clueless REALTORS® are passe.  There is no longer an excuse that you can’t do something because you lack knowledge about it. Learn how to use new technologies as consumers will come to expect it.

Redefinition #3 – Tech Basics Matter. Understand how to use Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing to your advantage. Look at how Facebook customizes ads based on your interests when you are reviewing profiles of others. Learn techniques to make better use of search engine optimization such as rich links to your Web site from other sites, ensuring you use key words, meta-descriptions, image tagging and keyword entries.

Redefinition #4 – Your role as a REALTOR® has changed. “It used to be we were constant negotiator, representative, networker and connector. Now we have evolved to economist, lobbyist, technologist reporter.,” Copeland says. Step up to shape news in your communities. It is the first time in  history you have a chance to be the news steward of your community. Copeland has developed his online community and regularly sits down with his sales team to build content for his Web site/blog on news, features, finance, sports and lifestyle features. Make sure your content is excellent and stays fresh on a regular basis. Comment on other people’s blogs to build up your own Web traffic. Write “tight” content. People like to read in two sentences or less in a paragraph. Example: The top ten things Nashville does not have–if you are considering moving here. Make a list. Build content in top “threes”, i.e. the top three places you may get a speeding ticket in your community or the top three activities to do at your neighborhood park. Make content fresh and fun! Upload great pictures.

Redefinition #5 – Mobile Matters. Make sure you are mobile and have information easily accessible even if you are in your car with a laptop. Create a wireless car for your consumers when viewing property so you can answer their questions via WI-FI technology with laptop or IPAD.  If they have questions regarding crime statistics, neighborhood facts, nearby parks, lifestyle, property search, how can you go online in your car to get answers to their questions?

Redefinition #6 – You’ve gotta move to the cloud. Be able to access accounts/files/documents anywhere at anytime.

Redefinition #7 – Technology is not always about just technology. People are becoming digital natives. Learn and understand technology as your consumers expect you to know technology talk. When you increase your social media brand it raises your name and brand awareness to clients and friends. It helps you build referrals from other agents. It helps promote you.

Redefinition#8 – Consumers Expect personal connection.

Redefinition #9 – You cannot fear the confusing.

Refinition #10 – No excuse not to track–always understand what kind of Web hits you are getting to show your client. Every first showing now happens online. The second happens in the home.  Using data with his sales he has determined that for every 1000 first showings he should expect one physical second showing and for every 10 physical showings there should be one offer. If not it goes back to price. If the home is not being viewed online or is having regular physical showings that can translate into perhaps the price needs adjusting. With data in tow you have the opportunity to reevaluate price.

Consumers expect you to lead and they will follow.

Strong Illinois home buyer’s market needs significant job, consumer confidence boost

With interest rates continuing to post all-time record lows and lower home prices, more people should be getting in the market. Investors and first-time buyers are taking advantage of these high affordability conditions, according to the National Association of REALTORS® home sales report today, accounting for 22 percent and 32 percent of sales, respectively.

Job security and consumer confidence are among the factors holding many back. Economist Dr. Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory (REAL) of the University of Illinois noted in the Illinois home sales report also released today: “However, the job market confirmed that the nation’s economic recovery is slowing down; the Illinois unemployment rate has increased four months in a row after 15 consecutive months of declines.”

Still, more homes are selling than last year at this time with double-digit gains statewide (up 25.9 percent) and in the nine-county Chicago region (up 27.6 percent) and these year-over-year gains are expected to continue through November in Illinois, according to the REAL forecast (pdf). The sales gains in August would have been stronger without ongoing “headwinds” from tight credit and appraisal problems, as cited in the NAR report today.

All markets are local and it’s best to work with a local REALTOR® who knows the market. As observed in IAR’s August home sales report, more than half of Illinois counties reporting (51 of 100) showed year-over-year median price increases including Champaign, up 2.8 percent to $148,000; Kankakee, up 10.2 percent to $124,500; Macoupin, up 8.8 percent to $89,200; McLean, up 14.0 percent to $171,000; Monroe, up 12.3 percent to $202,200; Peoria, up 14.7 percent to $132,500; and Williamson, up 5.7 percent to $115,000.

IHDA announces Illinois Hardest Hit mortgage assistance program

The Illinois Hardest Hit Program, to be administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), was announced on September 15 by Governor Pat Quinn. The program utilizes $345 million in federal funds to support working families having trouble making mortgage payments due to unemployment or under-employment.

Below is information from the IHDA news release about the program, which has an official website (the only website for applications).

The program allows eligible participants to receive up to $25,000 over 18 months as a 10-year loan to keep mortgages current and make ongoing payments, including fees and penalties. The loan is forgiven over the last five years of the 10-year term and carries zero interest. Funds for the program are supplied by the U. S. Department of the Treasury. Illinois is among 18 states and Washington, D.C., that received funding for the program earlier this year.

“The best way to stabilize our neighborhoods is to prevent foreclosures before they happen,” said Mary Kenney, IHDA executive director. “This program will make a difference in people’s lives and in our communities.”

Free applications for the program are available exclusively through IHDA’s Illinois Hardest Hit website at Applicants will be matched with a local review agency that will answer questions, pre-screen applicants for eligibility and assist homeowners in preparing the application and assembling the required supporting documentation.

Eligibility criteria for the program include:

  • Property must be located in Illinois
  • Household must have a documented income reduction of at least 25 percent due to unemployment or under-employment through no fault of their own
  • Household income must be at or below 120 percent of the area median income
  • Principal loan balance of a mortgage must not be more than $500,000
  • Household liquid assets cannot exceed 3 months of mortgage payments
  • Property, which can be a 1-4 unit building, must be the primary and only residence of all borrowers/owners
  • Homeowners must carry a fixed or adjustable rate loan; negative amortization or interest-only loans are not eligible
  • The delinquency and forward payments must fall within available assistance and program guidelines
  • Applicants must not have been convicted of a mortgage-related felony in the last 10 years

The Illinois Hardest Hit program is funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury and does not have a fee for applying. Applicants should be aware of the prevalence for mortgage assistance fraud; no mortgage assistance program requires a fee.