Mainstreet Advocacy News
February 2020 Update
National News - February
Affordable Housing has become a hot topic not only in real estate, but for local municipalities and those running for elected office on a local, state, and federal level. A lack of inventory has pushed housing pricing in an upward trajectory, eliminating groups of people from achieving the American Dream, and in some cases, a roof over their head. This article shares what the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is doing in order to address this important issue.
Service animals are an invaluable companion to citizens with a variety of seen and unseen disabilities. Enabling independence and safety to those individuals who rely on service animals, laws and ordinances exist in order for these working animals to join their human companions in public places, transportation, and housing that might normally restrict animals. In recent years, abuses among those who claim untrained pets as emotional support animals has created a negative environment for those who legitimately rely on the skills of a trained support animal. HUD has stepped in and has provided a document which gives updated guidance to housing providers, effective Jan. 28th, 2020. For further details, you can refer to this article from NAR.
Tax extenders: NAR has paved the way to institute a series of tax extenders favorable to property owners. Included in the package are temporary extensions of three tax provisions directly impacting the real estate industry: 1) the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt from gross income, meaning that owners of primary residences who sold them short and had part of their mortgage debt written off will not have to pay tax on the amount forgiven; 2) the deductibility of premiums for mortgage insurance; and 3) the deduction of the cost of improvements to commercial buildings that make them energy efficient. These provisions had all expired at the end of 2017, but the bill extends them, retroactive to the beginning of 2018, and through the end of 2020.
State News - February
Vacant property registration: In the past year, a growing number of communities have partnered with a popular vacant property registration service in order to cut down on blighted properties in their neighborhoods. The service and the municipality share the registration fee which is often paid by property owners fighting to save their home from foreclosure. While the service does help to identify blighted properties and hold the current owner responsible for upkeep, the unfortunate side effect is that often, the property is still occupied by the homeowner and the fee is prohibitive to an already cash strapped family. In some areas, seasonal homes that are vacant for 6 months or more have been pulled into the registration process. Mainstreet Government Affairs Directors (GADs) are working diligently with municipalities to update ordinances and alleviate the financial burden to those attempting to remain in their home. Illinois REALTORS® has produced a brochure relevant to agents, homeowners, and elected officials in order to stem the confusion and avoid the inherent issues that the registration process has proven can occur.
New Bills: The Illinois General Assembly is off to a fast start, filing over 3,000 bills in the first weeks of the spring session. Legislation important to real estate professionals include HB 255 (Rent Control), SJRCA 14 (Lowers the standard for becoming a home rule municipality), and a variety of bills (HB 4826, SB 3243, SB 3227) which seek to impose or increase transfer taxes. Illinois REALTORS® (IR) remains vigilant in Springfield and will keep members up to date, as will Mainstreet. Please respond to any calls to action that IR may request. Sign up for Calls for Action by texting the word REALTOR to 30644.
Just Housing Ordinance (JHO) Checklist: Illinois REALTORS® has developed a helpful document that serves as a checklist for the Just Housing Ordinance, which became effective in Cook County on Dec. 31st, 2019. Cook County has also provided a valuable tool with answers to most questions as well as helpful FAQs.
Local News - February
Mainstreet Government Affairs Directors (GADs) have been hard at work, meeting with municipal officials on behalf of members and consumers. The following is a glimpse at the work that the GADs have been up to during the month of February.
GAD Joe Roth (Lake County) demonstrated the power of reason and strong relationships when he was able to steer the Island Lake village board away from mandating sprinklers in all new detached single family homes. Builders will be required to offer sprinklers in new construction, but property owners will not be mandated to install and incur the additional costs.
GAD Jeff Merrinette (DuPage County and North Cook) and GAD Tom Joseph (South Cook) are hard at work educating residents in Burr Ridge, Westchester, and Lynwood regarding home rule, which has been placed on the March ballot in those municipalities. A series of mailers will be sent to voters, and yard signs will be provided to residents urging voters to vote against home rule.
The Village of Beecher has eliminated impact fees in order to spur new home construction. GAD Tom Joseph played an integral role in this positive outcome.
The following is the time table for voting in Illinois.
March 2nd, 2020 – Early voting begins
March 12th, 2020 – Last day to apply for Vote by Mail ballot
March 16th, 2020 – Last day of early voting
March 17th, 2020 – Election Day – Polls open 6 a.m., close 7 p.m.
January 2020 Update
In 2017, the Tax Cuts and Job Act eliminated an important tax benefit for homeowners in Illinois when state and local tax deductions (SALT) were capped at $10,000. As a result, fewer homeowners are able to take advantage of the deduction, and thus, possibly face higher taxes. Additionally, one of the more attractive benefits to homeownership has been done away with. NAR is urging Congress to consider changes to the tax code that are homeowner friendly through an online petition. You can sign the petition here.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been extended until September 30, 2020. While the extension is welcome news, NAR continues to lobby for permanent, sustainable funding for the program. A long-term solution would mean a great deal to REALTORS® and homebuyers alike, as a non-renewal of the NFIP would jeopardize thousands of real estate closings reliant on the ability to provide flood insurance.
Trump Administration Streamlines NEPA Reviews: The National Association of REALTORS® is backing the Trump administration's proposal to reform the National Environmental Policy Act, which NAR President Vince Malta says could help modernize environmental standards while also helping to alleviate housing shortages. Malta joined President Donald Trump and other officials at a White House event Thursday to announce the proposed NEPA changes, which would be the first in more than 40 years. Read more >>
NAR Applauds Senate Confirmation of Jovita Carranza: National Association of Realtors® President Vince Malta issued the following statement after the Senate voted this week to confirm Jovita Carranza as the next administrator of the Small Business Administration. Carranza has served as U.S. Treasurer since June of 2017 after having held a senior role at the SBA under President George W. Bush. Read more >>
Illinois REALTORS® Public Policy Meetings 2020: January is not only the start of a new year and new decade, but also marks the start of a new session of the Illinois General Assembly. At the Illinois REALTORS® (IR) Public Policy meetings held January 21st – January 23rd, IR’s Political Affairs and Governmental Affairs experts provided a forecast of key issues that are expected to surface during the 2020 spring session. Issues such as rent control, Chicago seeking a graduated transfer tax, property tax reform, and the redistricting to follow the census are important issues in the spring session. Additionally, a report from the Property Tax Task Force is expected in March, outlining ideas and initiatives to lower the property tax burden to Illinois homeowners.
The Just Housing Ordinance is now in effect in Cook County. This ordinance adds criminal history to the list of protected classes and changes the rules regarding background checks for potential renters, attempting to level the playing field for those with a criminal background. A two-step process will now apply to background checks, requiring that financial considerations be first taken into account before any criminal background check can be requested. While the ordinance went in effect January 1, 2020, it will become enforceable starting February 1, 2020. The Cook County Board has provided a Q & A concerning the new ordinance.
A proactive agenda will be the emphasis of the IR Local Government Affairs Committee, chaired by Mainstreet member, Tim Ryan. Ryan asked for all state members to become a part of the initiative and contact IR committee members of hot-button issues in the communities where they live and work.
Each month, Mainstreet’s four government affairs committees meet to discuss local issues relevant to homeowners, homebuyers, and Mainstreet members. The month of January included the following items for members to be aware of concerning the March 17th ballot:
In Lake County, the Village of Libertyville will be asking residents whether or not to enact a non-home rule sales tax in the amount of 1%. The approximately $2,000,000 of additional revenue would be used to fund infrastructure improvements, as well as possibly helping to fund a storm water utility, which in turn would be utilized to correct an antiquated storm water system in the village.
Cook County will see three municipalities asking voters to approve home rule. Burr Ridge (also a part of DuPage County), Lynwood, and Westchester are seeking voter approval to become a home rule unit. Illinois REALTORS® and Mainstreet typically oppose home rule initiatives as the level of power increases for municipal elected officials as they would no longer require community consensus on issues like taxes and village/city regulations. For more information on home rule, visit the REALTOR® Property Alliance.
Sauk Village is another municipality to watch. Due to a lack of process for point of sale inspections, and the use of private home inspection firms to conduct these inspections, Illinois REALTORS® has filed suit against Sauk Village in an effort to create a fair and reasonable process. Should you have any questions concerning inspections in Sauk Village, please contact Government Affairs Director Tom Joseph at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions concerning municipal issues that you are aware of, please contact Nadine Scodro at Mainstreet, who can direct you to your local Government Affairs Director.
December 2019 Update
Block Chain Technology Act (HB 3575/PA 101-0514): Creates the Block Chain Technology Act. (Effective Jan. 2020)
Provides when a record contained in a block chain can be used in a legal proceeding or transaction. Establishes the types of situations in which a block chain may not be used. Prohibits local governments from placing restrictions or taxes on block chain usage. Does not pre-empt home rule.
Human Rights Real Estate Complaints (SB220/PA 101-0530): Amends the Human Rights (Effective Jan. 2020)
Act to make fact-finding conferences discretionary rather than mandatory unless waived by both parties in investigations into complaints relating to real estate transactions. Adds housing discrimination to the training for Commissioners at the Illinois Human Rights Commission. In complaints regarding real estate transactions, if the complainant elects to go to circuit court, the Attorney General shall commence a civil action on behalf of the aggrieved party within 30 days after the administrative closure order by the Human Rights Commission.
Notice of Foreclosure (SB 1134/PA 101-0539) (Effective Jan. 2020)
Provides that in foreclosure actions, the plaintiff will file an affidavit with the court if the defendant is unavailable for service of process, the plaintiff will cause notice to be published in a newspaper, and the clerk of court will have the duty to send a copy of the published notice to each defendant listed in the case.
House Federal Funding Legislation Brings Certainty, Stability to Housing Market (Dec. 2019)
National Association of REALTORS® Newsroom
Village of Oak Lawn Random Inspections (Dec. 2019)
The Village of Oak Lawn may be conducting random unauthorized inspections based upon listings of homes that are remodeled and may not have sought appropriate permitting. These homes are for sale and may be subject to inspection per the MLS or other virtual photos by village review. Sellers should be aware of the need to obtain permits but owners voluntary consent needs to be sought, and any inspection should be limited to the "permitted" work not the whole residence. If you have any questions, contact Government Affairs Director, Tom Joseph, at email@example.com or 630.324.8424.
Carol Stream Initiating a Municipal Property Tax (Dec. 2019)
In an effort to keep Mainstreet members informed about important changes in the communities they live and work in, please be advised of the following development in Carol Stream. On Nov. 18th, Carol Stream village trustees voted to initiate a municipal property tax. The village had been one of just a handful of communities without this tax. Declining sales tax revenues, paired with increasing pension costs, and other mandates caused Carol Stream officials to re-institute the levy after a 40-year absence. Visit the Village of Carol Stream website for additional info and to see the estimated amount to be applied to the property bills of those living in Carol Stream.
Dale Taylor chosen for 2019 Good Neighbor Award (Nov. 2019)
Mainstreet member and past-president, Dale Taylor, was recognized for his years of work with South Suburban Public Action to Deliver Shelter (SSPADS) to help countless homeless men and women get back on their feet over his 19 years of volunteering with SSPADS.