About Tom Joseph

Tom Joseph is the Illinois Association of REALTORS® local Government Affairs Director (GAD) representing the Kankakee-Iroquois-Ford, Mainsteet Organization and Three Rivers Associations of REALTORS®.

Hazel Crest officials meet with IAR, MORe representatives

(l to r) Tom Joseph, Hazel Crest Mayor Vernard Alsberry, Jr., Diane Abell and Jermaine Coney.

Delays for municipal point-of-sale inspections, required reinspections and occupancy permits – as well as excessive inspections beyond “health and safety” violations – were topics discussed by Illinois REALTORS®, Hazel Crest Mayor Vernard Alsberry, Jr., and Hazel Crest Village Manager Donna Gayden Wednesday.

IAR Local Government Affairs Director Tom Joseph, Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® South Government Affairs Committee Chair Diane Abell (a broker for Coldwell Banker in Flossmoor) and Jermaine Coney, Broker Prestige Partners Realty, represented Illinois REALTORS®.

Alsberry and Gayden pledged to “rectify these delays in administering the village inspection process.  Both acknowledged the need to encourage real estate and not impede it.”

An IAR economic impact study detailing the importance and local value of real estate transactions was shared with Alsberry and Gayden. Other discussion topics included the declining foreclosure market and overall improvement in the real estate market.

Will County code change vote doesn’t include costly fire sprinkler mandate

Will County's board opted not to include a fire sprinkler mandate for new single-family and townhome dwellings. (Image: Bigstock)

A multi-year effort to make sure that a fire sprinkler mandate was not part of changes to the building code used in Will County proved successful.

The Will County Board voted 25-0 on May 15 to adopt the new codes, but notable in the package of changes was the absence of any requirement that new single-family or townhouse dwellings have the fire suppression systems installed.

The campaign to avoid the costly sprinkler mandate involved the Illinois Association of REALTORS®, the Three Rivers Association of REALTORS®, the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®. The campaign involved mailings, a website, brochures and telephone calls to make sure Will County residents knew the high price tag that could come with a fire sprinkler mandate.

The county held six public hearings on the issue. Despite strong lobbying by the pro-sprinkler lobby and local fire chiefs, the mandate was left out.

Illinois REALTORS® are wary of mandates for the fire suppression systems in single-family homes due to the costs of installing and maintaining the systems.

IAR thanks the Will County Board for their consideration on this important issue for our members.

And the campaign would not have been successful without Karen Robertson and Jim Sim from the Three Rivers Association; and Ron Flatt and Tim Ryan from the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®. Also, thanks to the South Suburban Will Grundy Home Builders Association.

Fees for real estate signs nixed in Chicago Heights

The Chicago Heights City Council has amended and repealed part of an ordinance that required a permit and fee to place real estate For Sale signs.

Tom Joseph, a governmental affairs director for IAR, reports the action on Monday came after work by the association and the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® to get the rules changed.

The fees had been in place for decades and were a byproduct of home rule authority. The ordinance called for a $50 sticker that had to be obtained to place a For Sale sign in front of a residence. The sticker was good for just six months.

To get a sticker, a REALTOR® had to adhere to a 16-point list of guidelines which at one time required an agent to take the sign to the city to be measured for compliance. The rules were widely seen as restricting real estate sales.

The antiquated ordinance was believed to have raised only $7,000 to $7,500 annually.

In the case of a property that was a bank-owned property, sales could take much longer than six months. The result was that many REALTORS® doing business in Chicago Heights opted to forgo putting any signs up at all.

After hearing from REALTORS®, the Chicago Heights City Council under the leadership of their first-term Mayor David Gonzalez, worked with IAR/MORe government affairs and repealed the required permit and fee. The mayor wants REALTORS® to promote the community as a place to live.

For more information on this, contact IAR Governmental Affairs Director Tom Joseph at tjoseph@iar.org.

Joliet-area REALTORS® on the front lines of issues affecting the real estate business

Did you know there are groups of Illinois REALTORS® serving as watchdogs for homeowners and issues affecting the real estate business located all over the state? In this case we’re shining some light on the Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® Governmental Affairs Committee. This group meets monthly. Among the topics from the June meeting:
  • Federal issues including the recent 60-day extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, what the changes mean for homeowners (and buyers and sellers) in flood plains and the potential impact on non-primary residences.
  • An initiative of the Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) to redefine the USDA Rural Development Housing program and its impact in nearby Morris, Illinois. The Three Rivers Association has sent a letter to Congressman Adam Kinzinger asking for a more accurate definition as to what communities qualify under this program.
  • State issues recap of action by the recently adjourned Illinois General Assembly, including an expedited foreclosure process addressed by two bills (Senate Bills 16 and 2535) that ultimately saw no action.
  • IAR’s effective work to stop House Bill 506 related to erroneous homestead exemptions.
  • A county/local issue heating up, the ongoing Will County zoning ordinance rewrite. Three Rivers member REALTORS®  and the IAR local Government Affairs Director (GAD) are stakeholder participants in this proactive effort to be sure the rights of private property owners are respected.
  • A recent win for REALTORS® and the RVOICE advocacy program took place in the Village of Minooka. The Village has agreed to amend its ordinance and exclude any inspections of residential property that may be vacant and or foreclosed. Only registration will be required but there will be NO FEE attached.
In the photo, left to right: REALTORS® Judy Panozzo, Leo Koulouris, Linda Shafer, Rita Liberatore, Three Rivers Association Executive David McClintock, REALTORS® Kitty Vancina and Karen Robertson, IAR local Government Affairs Director (GAD) Tom Joseph, and Committee Chairman REALTOR® Jim Sim.

REALTORS® Work to Amend Will County Adjudication Ordinance

Tom JosephThe Will County Board recently passed an ordinance which allows the county to pursue code enforcement on nuisance and public safety issues in a process known as “administrative adjudication.” This would take cases out of the Will County circuit court and into an independent proceeding with an adjudication judge. The obvious benefit to this system is it would be an expedited way to deal with code violations. State law now permits this process for cities and counties. (The county power applies to the unincorporated areas.)

The ordinance, as proposed, allowed county government to become the prosecutor and the judge. Illinois REALTORS® expressed some concerns on this.

  • Would the procedural rights of a property owner be trampled on when faced with a building code violation?
  • A county lawyer, acting as the adjudicator, could have a lot of power.
  • Could the expedited system be too fast for most property owners who receive a citation?

The REALTOR® Association wanted to weigh in on how this new system would work in Will County. IAR legal counsel and I reviewed the draft ordinance and worked to ensure that property owners had the opportunity to “cure” any potential citation before stiff penalties were imposed. The Will County Board was receptive to concerns we expressed and the changes we suggested. As a result, two major provisions were added to the proposed ordinance:

1. Under the old county ordinance, the Land Use Department could allow up to 21 days to address a code violation. Now the ordinance has a 30-day provision allowing property owners more time to address any potential citation once cited.

2. A consent provision was added that would require the county to seek consent from a property owner before any inspection of the property is done. This is a very important Constitutional right that has been upheld in various federal courts. The county may seek an administrative warrant in circuit court if consent is denied.

IAR advocacy and testimony were provided throughout the process as the county board considered the proposal. The final ordinance, with amendments, was passed in August.

Tom Joseph is the Illinois Association of REALTORS® local Government Affairs Director (GAD) representing the Kankakee-Iroquois-Ford, Mainsteet Organization and Three Rivers Associations of REALTORS®. Questions about this ordinance? Contact tjoseph@iar.org.