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.

Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council to host Ghana delegation next week

Illinois REALTOR® Vicky Sampah is spearheading an effort to help a delegation from the Republic of Ghana learn about real estate industry regulation.
The delegation is scheduled to visit with Sampah and other REALTORS® in Chicago next week. Two years ago, the Illinois REALTORS® hosted a parliamentarian and real estate practitioner delegation from Ghana to share experiences and give counsel about regulating the real estate industry. The group has incorporated some of the amendments Illinois REALTORS® suggested in 2015 but the policy has not been passed in Ghana’s parliament.
Illinois REALTORS® welcomes the delegation members back and is happy to share its advocacy expertise and be part of the global community of real estate.

Illinois REALTORS® Join NAR at Global Session for Cities

(l to r) Illinois REALTOR® Vicky Sampah and Patricia de Lille, executive mayor of the city of Cape Town, South Africa

Last week, Global Policy Advisor Sharon Gorrell and Vice-Chair of the Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council, Vicky Sampah joined Janet Branton, senior vice president of Global and Commercial Services for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and Judith Hermanson of IHC Global, a non-profit housing coalition started in part by the NAR, for a three-day session put on by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

It is called the Chicago Forum on Global Cities. Each year, the forum brings together global leaders in business, education, civics and the arts for an integrated, cross-sector dialogue on the power and limitations of global cities to shape the world’s future.

This session drew public sector and private industry professionals, along with academics and non-profit groups to come together and learn from leaders and experts from different countries on a variety of subjects affecting cities. Topics such as urban planning, housing supply, data/technology, immigration and migration, diversity, energy and sustainability and a plethora of other topics affecting urban areas and world-class cities throughout the globe were all addressed.

Sampah stated, “It is important for us REALTORS® to understand the global trends since some of these issues cross over and affect our markets and what our urban areas may be contemplating in the future.”

As an example, the concept of “walkability” came up at a session on Livable Cities. The mayor of Melbourne, Australia, Robert Doyle was sharing that streetscapes need to look good in order to draw people to them rather than use their car. He stated at the session, “Cities can’t just be walkable, they have to be enjoyable to walk through.” This falls into the experience economy trend that effects everything we do from drinking coffee to buying groceries.

Chicago’s own Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave the opening comments and stressed the importance of local communities taking part in global conversations. The session ended with Chicago Council on Global Affairs President Ivo Daalder stating that cities need to start getting more involved in higher level policy discussions since nation-states make policy decisions that local communities have to implement and in many cases, pay for.

Forums like these are great opportunities to network with global decision makers and industry colleagues. They also are a great place to collect and build resources that help the members of the Illinois REALTORS® Global Business Council be better partners in global real estate transactions and trusted advisors for their international clients in both the commercial and residential sectors.

Co-living . . . new concept or simply a revival of an age-old way of life?

Aaron Galvin (left) and Noah Gottlieb believe the amenities available in a co-living development like “L – Logan Square” will be very popular.

Depending on your generation, you may have a different idea of where the trend towards community style living concepts comes from. Many baby boomers remember growing up with Grandma in the upstairs apartment or multiple generations living and working the family farm. Millennials and Gen-Xers may look to their college days of dorms, frats and sororities. Co-living is also familiar for those in need, either financially or due to a disability. No matter where you may have experienced this type of lifestyle, it is now coming back in a new and chic way.

One feature of TOD living is plenty of room for bicycles instead of car parking spaces for every resident.

While sharing an apartment certainly isn’t anything new, having it developed specifically to accommodate this lifestyle is. REALTOR® Aaron Galvin, Managing Broker and Owner of Luxury Living Chicago Realty, and Noah Gottlieb, Principal of Property Markets Group, are part of the next wave of co-living. Gottlieb is the developer of “L – Logan Square” where Galvin is the leasing agent. This building offers a community lifestyle in addition to an affordable entryway into higher cost areas of the city. The building offers amenities customarily found in luxury style buildings. However, if you are willing to rent a bedroom in a three-unit apartment with others, then this concept is for you. The building is also considered a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) so it has 60 parking spaces for 120 units in its garage but it has a home for bicycles and you can walk to the “L”. On your way, you can grab a coffee or cereal from the lobby area that is also part of the package.

An open-air deck area includes a refurbished “L” car provides a unique place to hang out with friends.

The co-living concept of this building includes socially programmed amenities like an open-air deck area that actually includes a refurbished “L” car where you can hang out with friends and neighbors. Galvin and Gottlieb both say this is a not just an apartment, it is a lifestyle experience. The popularity of this concept is evident in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Oakland and cities where they already have several similar concepts from converted single family homes to multi-family options. Property Markets Group is also in the process of developing over 3,500 units in Denver, New York, and Miami. The next Chicago project for Galvin and Gottlieb will be located in University Village and target graduate students and young professionals associated with the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) and the Illinois Medical District. Eventually they plan to implement nationally a “membership” wherein you always have a place to workout or hang out when in other cities across the country that have a building under their corporate umbrella.

The sharing economy includes real estate, says Galvin, and they wanted to come up with a creative solution to address the demand of today’s consumers. While millennials would be attracted to the concept, it would work for anyone willing to be part of a “shared cultural and living experience at a tremendous value.” Most luxury style buildings near transportation are out of reach for many, Gottlieb says, so “the relative affordability for the amenities offered simply can’t be matched in the marketplace.”

Bill Caton

This concept is also gaining popularity globally as well. Cities like Paris, London, Tokyo, Bali, and Berlin all have co-living buildings under development. The cachet overseas is motivating foreign investors to find demand opportunities in Chicago as well. REALTOR® Bill Caton, CIPS, Principal of Caton Commercial Real Estate Group, recently returned from the MIPIM Real Estate Conference in Cannes, France where he met Evan Kasper, Co-founder and Managing Director of Berlin based Medici Living Group (MLG), the largest co-living provider in Europe. Kasper is leading MLG’s expansion of its upscale brand, Quarters, into the United States. MLG works with developers to implement their model in existing, in process, or planning stage multifamily buildings. Kasper says there is a mismatch between the supply of luxury housing products and the demand of young professionals. Caton along with son and business partner REALTOR® Steve Caton and Senior Broker, REALTOR® Andy Velkme, CIPS, who are all representing MLG agree with Kasper’s assessment.

Andy Velkme

Young professionals are more adventurous and “experience-focused” than ever before, says Velkme, and they are looking for ways to simplify and expedite the burdensome facets of life. Moving to a world-class city, finding a nice place to live, buying furniture and meeting new friends takes time, energy and money. The Quarters concept uses technology and market expertise to solve the dilemma by satisfying all those needs quickly. MLG also appreciates the benefit of the membership model in leasing.

Steve Caton

“This concept is not just about sharing expenses with roommates, and simplifying the rental process,” says Steve Caton, “it is a revolutionary transformation for the traditionally ridged asset class of real estate. Residents are looked at more like members, and they have access to move around the world in three clicks online, creating more mobility for a younger workforce.”

The co-working area is another amenity included with some developments. The concept has been popular with the start-up community that often shares ideas as well as living spaces.  While this seems more of a trend for millennials, the senior community has been enjoying a similar lifestyle model for a while. Earlier concepts such as Del Webb® or The Villages® in Florida offer “community” as part of their appeal. While these offer separate single family homes, shared home concepts and apartments are gaining popularity in order for seniors to be able to age-in-place. As communities update their comprehensive land-use plans and zoning ordinances, the Illinois REALTORS® has put together a senior housing toolkit for municipalities to help find solutions to satisfy these growing demands.

It seems that there isn’t one factor that has created this resurgence and nuance to some of our former lifestyles. Minimalism is gaining popularity and land is scarce in many urban areas, so the desire for community and affordability of amenities consumers couldn’t otherwise enjoy are all factors that seem to be feeding into the growing demand.

‘Experiential retail,’ 1031 exchanges, MIPIM among commercial issues discussed in DC

(l to r) REALTORS® Christopher Schramko, Deena Zimmerman and Mark Goodwin.

Illinois REALTORS® commercial members are busy in Washington, DC at the NAR Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo alongside their residential colleagues.

Illinois REALTOR® Global Business Council Chair Alex Ruggieri, CCIM led the NAR Commercial Real Estate Forum where items such as the MIPIM conference in Cannes, France next March and the Swanepoel Commercial Alert Report were presented. CAR member and NAR Commercial Liaison Deena Zimmerman shared her thoughts on an emerging commercial real estate trend called “experiential retail” where shopping now has become more than just a transaction, it is an experience.

NICAR leaders Mark Goodwin and Christopher Schramko attended the forum and then headed to Capitol Hill to meet with U.S. Reps. Randy Hultgren and Mike Quigley. Their expertise on 1031 exchanges, depreciation and infrastructure was an added value to the conversation.

Illinois REALTORS® Treasurer Dan Wagner also was on hand at the meeting with Senator Dick Durbin to explain the 1031 exchange and its importance to real estate and the U.S. economy.