Morning Minute: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers guidance on credit following Equifax data breach

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advises Americans to take steps to protect their credit in: “Top 10 ways to protect yourself in the wake of the Equifax data breach.”

Freezing your credit, reviewing your credit report at least annually and setting up fraud alerts are just a few ideas offered.

In other headlines:

How appealing property tax assessments can pay off

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Illinois REALTORS® can demonstrate their value to homeowners by sharing their knowledge of the local property tax process.

That expertise can pay off for property owners who receive tax assessment notices and want to appeal increases. In Cook County, for example, a Chicago Tribune columnist discovered more than 80 percent of property owners who appealed their 2016 assessments earned reductions. That figure included appeals initially rejected but then overturned by the Cook County Board of Review.

In this particular investigation, the reporter found more than 40 percent of property owners in counties surrounding Chicago successfully appealed their assessments, although one county was lower than 3 percent. REALTORS® what’s the situation in your county?

Appeal strategies compare assessments or the recent sale prices of similarly sized nearby homes. Homeowners may appreciate answers to questions like these:

  • Who is the county assessor?
  • When are property assessments sent to taxpayers?
  • When is the deadline for appeals?
  • What forms are used for appeals?
  • Can appeals be made electronically or must they be done in person at the assessor’s office?
  • How long does it take to gather evidence of similar properties?
  • How long to fill out appeals forms?
  • What is the time frame for appeals decisions?

Combine your knowledge of this information with resources that can help explain Illinois property taxes and the appeals process. Go to the Real Property Alliance website at www.realpropertyalliance.org/propertytax.

BGA names award after REALTOR® Goodwin

Daniel L. Goodwin

The Better Government Association (BGA) announced that its annual Watchdog Award will be named after its 2016 recipient, REALTOR® Daniel L. Goodwin, chairman and chief executive officer of the Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, Inc., of Oak Brook.

BGA made its announcement May 3 at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting in Chicago.

When honored in 2016, BGA recognized Goodwin for his advocacy for government reform in Illinois, as well as his lifetime achievements in business, philanthropy, economic development and civic engagement. Also, BGA noted his work as DuPage Airport Authority chairman should serve as a national model for government working in the public’s best interest.

On April 24, Goodwin received the first Lifetime Achievement Award ever presented by Illinois REALTORS®, at the RPAC Pacesetter VIP Event at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. The event helped kick off the 2017 Capitol Conference and REALTOR® Lobby Day.

 

REALTORS® rein in Zion’s nuisance property ordinance

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The Illinois REALTORS® does not just advocate against transfer taxes and government pre-sale home inspections — we took the lead in reining in the city of Zion’s chronic nuisance property abatement ordinance that was, among other things, targeting sexual assault and crime victims.

Zion’s chronic nuisance property abatement ordinance authorizes city staff to contact property owners when two of 13 defined nuisance activities are found to have occurred within a 180 day period. If a property owner does not respond or a proposed plan of action is not mutually agreed upon, the property must be shut-down for a period of 30 to 180 days and all occupants, regardless of culpability, must immediately vacate the building and be subject to homelessness. Other penalties include civil fines and judicial remedy.

The Illinois REALTORS® has long maintained concerns with these types of ordinances that often penalize property owners for seeking police assistance – the police services they pay for. Echoing our concerns, the Sargent Shriver Center on National Poverty Law, writes, in their report, the Cost of Being “Crime Free”: Legal and Practical Consequences of Crime Free Rental Housing and Nuisance Property Ordinances, “these ordinances present numerous potential pitfalls that can cause serious harm to tenant households, landlords, and the community at large and expose municipalities to legal liability.”

Upon hearing of escalated and abusive enforcement, the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® (MORe) Lake County Government Affairs Committee took the lead in investigating, and uncovered, among other concerns, that the city was violating its own policy by enforcing the ordinance even in cases of just one alleged nuisance instance and breaking Illinois law by enforcing the ordinance against the disabled and victims of domestic and sexual violence at risk.

According to a front page Lake County News-Sun story profiling our findings, Zion Mayor Al Hill says the city is now sending far fewer violation notices, no longer enforcing against crime victims, and violation notices now must have supervisory approval.

Illinois REALTORS® and MORe will continue to monitor this ordinance for continued abuse. To read the Lake County News-Sun’s story on Zion’s ordinance, click here; to read the Lake County News-Sun’s editorial calling the ordinance “misguided,” go here.