Learn how to protect your business from cybercrime at IDFPR conference

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Worried about hackers, computer viruses and wire fraud?

If you aren’t, you should be.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has put together a presentation on cybersecurity for real estate practitioners that should help protect your business.

The Cybersecurity Conference is 8:30 a.m.-noon June 6, in Chicago at the James R. Thompson Center auditorium and is open to all Illinois REALTORS®.

The session features presentations from an FBI special agent, industry leaders and includes a demonstration on how easy it is for hackers to get into your systems.

In light of the recent “Wannacry” computer malware infestation, this session could save you money and a lot of hassle. The agenda for the conference is here.

The IDFPR Cybersecurity Conference is sponsored in partnership with Illinois REALTORS®, the National Association of REALTORS® and a host of industry-affiliated organizations and firms.

The Thompson Center is located at 100 W. Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601.

Look for Illinois REALTORS® April housing report Wednesday

Geoffrey J.D. Hewings

Wednesday morning, the Illinois REALTORS® will release its April 2017 housing report, with data breakdowns for the state of Illinois, city of Chicago and the nine-county Chicago Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA). Also included will be a housing market forecast by Geoffrey J.D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois.

Members of the statewide association can access member-only market statistics by using their passwords.

Why homeowners, REALTORS® should be concerned about proposed federal tax overhaul

Source: Bigstock

The Trump administration released on Wednesday its initial sketch of what tax reform might look like.

Two specific areas to pay attention to as the debate develops would be the Mortgage Interest Deduction’s continued viability as a way to incentivize homeownership and a provision that would eliminate state and local tax deductions.

  • According to the Wall Street Journalthe tax package as outlined by the administration on Wednesday, would essentially double the standard deduction to about $24,000.

That means itemizing deductions including the Mortgage Interest Deduction would be less enticing or useful for those filing. That’s an issue since having the MID at full impact is an incentive to get people to buy homes. And homeownership, in addition to being economic bedrock, also serves to stabilize communities and gives families a shot at wealth creation.

By one measure, the average itemized deduction is about $26,000, so it’s not hard to see why doubling the standard deduction to $24,000 could make itemizing obsolete in many cases.

  • Also troubling is a move to eliminate local and state tax deductions.

Illinois reportedly has the highest property taxes in the state, and with an as-yet unsettled budget situation, it’s possible these taxes might increase over time. If the deduction for state and local taxes vaporizes, that means Illinois taxpayers will take a greater hit than states with lower taxes.

Illinois has a 3.75 individual state income tax rate, having decreased from 5 percent a few years ago. Neighboring Indiana has a 3.33 percent tax rate.

According to a CoreLogic study in 2016 the state had a 2.67 percent median property tax rate, versus a 1.31 percent median average for the U.S. as a whole.

Illinois REALTORS® President Doug Carpenter noted that for years REALTORS® have been urged to be vigilant about protecting the Mortgage Interest Deduction. Now is the time for the association’s 44,000-plus members to get involved in making sure policymakers understand how watering down the MID could have serious economic effects.

“As REALTORS®, we see daily the worth that this policy has had for millions of Illinois families who invest in their communities through homeownership,” Carpenter said. “Eroding the value of the MID is bad policy, and won’t serve the best interests of consumers. We should promote tax polices which encourage homeownership rather than make it less attractive.”

NAR President Bill Brown called the proposal is a “non-starter” for the real estate industry and homeowners. (His full statement is here.)

“Major reforms are needed to lower tax rates and simplify the tax code, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of current and prospective homeowners, ” he said.

It’s important to note that this is just the first step in the tax reform debate which is expected to last many months.

Illinois REALTORS® have a chance in less than a month as part of Capitol Hill visits during the REALTOR® Midyear Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo to tell lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to maintain the the MID’s impact.

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.