Illinois REALTORS® looking for volunteers for ombudsman program

Illinois REALTORS® who serve as ombudsmen met in Naperville June 1, 2016 to discuss the program and how it can best serve members and the public. Pictured here are front row (left to right) Illinois REALTORS® Rebecca Carraher, Bob Floss, Chris Read, Kim Noyes, Yvonne Seffer; back row, Terry Umecker, Wayne Paprocki, Ginger Westin, Georgia Pierini, Kim Trammel, Linda XXXX, Eleanor Nastepniak, Joan Sandrik, Debbie Hymen, Steve Hudson and Matt Difanis. Photo by Matt Difanis

Illinois REALTORS® has a team of ombudsmen who work to resolve disputes involving members and the public. Pictured here are front row (left to right) Illinois REALTORS® Rebecca Carraher,  and ombudsmen Bob Floss, Chris Read, Kim Noyes, Yvonne Seffer; back row, Terry Umecker, Wayne Paprocki, Ginger Westin, Georgia Pierini, Kim Trimmel, Linda Pilmer, Eleanor Nastepniak, Joan Sandrik, Debbie Hymen, Steve Hudson and Matt Difanis. (Photo by Matt Difanis)

Illinois REALTORS® for several years have operated an ombudsman program which acts as a first call for assistance when questions or disputes arise from real estate transactions.

The service is only available for those working with a REALTOR® in a transaction. The dispute-resolution service can be between a consumer and a REALTOR® or among the association’s members.

But to make it work, volunteers are needed who have a passion for working with the public and a knowledge of professional standards. You an apply by filling out this form by Oct. 15, 2016.

The program is a fast-growing component of the association’s Professional Standards effort, which works to make sure members uphold the highest standards and follow the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

Here’s how it works.

  • A consumer or REALTOR® member fills out a form explaining the nature of their question or dispute.
  • Illinois REALTORS® assigns the case to an ombudsman.
  • The volunteer ombudsman works with the consumer or REALTOR® to resolve the dispute.

The program has had significant success in its first few years of operation. It allows REALTORS® a chance to solve problems before they become bigger issues, and it gives the public a neutral third-party professional to talk to. Many disputes actually just stem from miscommunication, and the ombudsman can serve a vital role in clarifying facts and processes.

Interested in the program but have questions? Call Becky Carraher at 217.391.4803.

Morning Minute: March home sales kick start spring selling season

The Illinois housing market got some good news this week with the release of March home sales statistics that showed statewide sales posting the best March in four years and median prices snapping a 20-month streak of price declines, according to data released by IAR.

IAR President Loretta Alonzo told WBBM Newsradio that she hasn’t seen the real estate business this busy since five years ago when the market began its downturn. Alonzo had some advice to potential buyers who, up until now, have been waiting on the sidelines:

“Start looking now, because you’re gonna find a decrease in inventory. The good homes are going quickly, and the interest rates are still below 4 percent. So, it’s a very good buyer’s market out there,” she said.

More media coverage of March Illinois home sales:


April is Fair Housing Month

April 2012 marks the 44th anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act. Each year REALTORS® recognize the significance of this event and reconfirm our commitment to upholding fair housing law as well as our commitment to offering equal professional service to all in their search for real property. Find fair housing resources at

REALTOR® Fair Housing Declaration

REALTORS® agree to:

  • Provide equal professional service without regard to the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation of any prospective client, customer, or of the residents of any community.
  • Keep informed about fair housing law and practices, improving my clients’ and customers’ opportunities and my business.
  • Develop advertising that indicates that everyone is welcome and no one is excluded;, expanding my client’s and customer’s opportunities to see, buy, or lease property.
  • Inform my clients and customers about their rights and responsibilities under the fair housing laws by providing brochures and other information.
  • Document my efforts to provide professional service, which will assist me in becoming a more responsive and successful REALTOR®.
  • Refuse to tolerate non-compliance.
  • Learn about those who are different from me, and celebrate those differences.
  • Take a positive approach to fair housing practices and aspire to follow the spirit as well as the letter of the law.
  • Develop and implement fair housing practices for my firm to carry out the spirit of this declaration.

2013 IAR Treasurer Nominee: James M. Kinney

James M. Kinney

Congratulations to REALTOR® James M. Kinney, CRB, CRS, GRI, who has been chosen as the 2013 Illinois Association of REALTORS® Treasurer Nominee.

With a career that spans more than 30 years in the industry, Kinney is currently the vice president of luxury home sales at Baird & Warner’s Chicago Gold Coast Office. He has been actively involved in the REALTOR® organization, donating his time and expertise at the local, state and national level.

An advocate for professional education, he is a past president of the Illinois Real Estate Educational Foundation (REEF) and has been recognized with a scholarship in his name, honoring years of distinguished board service.

Kinney previously has been named REALTOR® of the Year by both the Illinois Association of REALTORS® and the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and is a Sustaining Golden R Contributor to the REALTOR® Political Action Committee (RPAC).



Potential Pitfalls for REALTORS®, Property Owners with Home Rule

With the Illinois March 20 Primary Election fast approaching, it is time again to pay attention to the candidate races and the issues that affect the real estate industry.

One issue that comes up in every election cycle is Home Rule. Pursuant to the Illinois Constitution, a municipality can seek to become a home rule unit if the voters approve it in a referendum. A municipality automatically becomes a home rule unit when its population reaches 25,000. With home rule status come additional powers to regulate and tax.

In past years, several home rule municipalities have abused their powers, particularly when it comes to real estate. They will attempt to control property transfers through point-of-sale inspections. Sometimes, municipalities will block the sale/transfer of property (usually through denying the issuance of transfer stamps) until the municipality is completely satisfied in terms of code enforcement. In addition, other home rule units have imposed other regulations on property owners regarding inspections of apartment buildings and vacant homes, landlord-tenant relationships, crime prevention measures. Some home rule units have passed demolition taxes, unfettered impact fees and excessive fees with the inspection programs.

A broad range of taxation options are available to home rule municipalities. Prior to 1997, home rule units could freely adopt a real estate transfer tax. But in 1997, a new law went into effect which put a limit on this. (The Illinois Association was instrumental in getting this law passed.) Home Rule units must go to a referendum to get a transfer tax adopted or increased. Except for this limitation—and a few others that are set forth in state law—home rule units are free to enact any kind of tax (except an income tax) they want. Home rule units are even exempt from the Property Tax Caps law.

The Illinois Constitution specifically states that only home rule units can incur debt. This enables home rule units to do long-term financing of infrastructure projects. This can be good for a community and it can attract new businesses. This is a genuine benefit to being a home rule unit; economic development is important for all Illinois communities. However, the question of how the debt will be managed and financed is an important issue for citizens in existing home rule municipalities or those who are considering becoming a home rule unit.

This year, the following municipalities are seeking to become Home Rule:

  • Clarendon Hills (DuPage)
  • Itasca (DuPage)
  • Lynwood (Cook)
  • Merrionette Park(Cook)
  • Princeton (Bureau)
  • Prospect Heights (Cook).

In most of these towns, the RVOICE Program will send mail pieces to voters to inform them of the potential pitfalls of Home Rule.

Some Home Rule policies have posed some serious difficulties for property owners, sellers, buyers and REALTORS® in the real estate transaction process. We want to be sure that the voters know all the implications of handing home rule powers to their municipalities.