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: U.S. housing starts surge higher

Home construction hit a high note in November as U.S. housing starts climbed 10.5 percent higher, signaling a strengthening home construction market, according to data released today by the Commerce Department. The gains beat expected forecasts and single-family construction was particularly strong, Bloomberg reports. Read more.

In other headlines:

‘Tis a great season to buy and sell your home – HousingWire

Do Neighborhood Watch Signs Hurt Sales? – NAR Daily Real Estate News

Morning Minute: Understanding active military and veteran homebuyers

Active military and veterans are an important part of the housing market, accounting for 21 percent of U.S. homebuyers this year, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and its 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. NAR’s Economists’ Outlook blog takes a closer look at the demographic of this sector of the market in “A Unique Home Buying Demographic: Active Military & Veterans.

A few of the highlights:

  • 41 percent used virtual tours
  • 18 percent bought multi-generation homes
  • Median income was $79,500
  • Median home price was $223,000

In other headlines:

Real estate agents go high tech to sell homes -Chicago Tribune

Dos and Don’ts for a First-Time Home Buyer – NAR Daily Real Estate News

Chicago Ranks Sixth in US for Public Transit – Chicago Press Release Service

Morning Minute: Freddie Mac offers six quick steps to boost your credit

Image: Bigstock.com

Image: Bigstock.com

Thinking about buying a home? Get to work on building your credit now and it could help you get ready for the spring homebuying season, according to Freddie Mac executive Danny Gardner. In a recent blog post, Gardner covers six practical steps consumers can take to improve their FICO score. Two ideas: Establish credit independently of your spouse or partner and open a checking and savings account if you don’t already have one. Read more.

In other headlines:

FHFA announces 2016 conforming loan limits – HousingWire

The Mortgage Balancing Act: What You Spend vs. What You Make – Realtor.com

Half-Priced Homes from HUD: What to Know – NAR Daily Real Estate News

Morning Minute: Pending home sales headed slightly higher in October

After two months of declines, U.S. pending home sales headed back into positive territory, rising 0.2 percent in October compared to the month before. The news is even better when comparing year-to-year with pending sales climbing 3.9 percent higher than last year, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), which released its Pending Home Sales Index today. Read more.

In other headlines:

Rent vs. Buy: Either Way You’re Paying A Mortgage – KCM Blog

2015 Home Buying Trend: Purchasing Larger Homes – NAR