IAR President-Elect Loretta Alonzo and IAR Housing Policy Advisor Sharon Gorrell at the Governor's Conference on Affordable Housing

While there are many things on the political and policy agendas for the state of Illinois, housing is definitely one that ranks as a big priority on both. The dilemmas, thoughts on solutions and opportunities were all discussed at the 2010 Governor’s Conference on Affordable Housing on October 25th.  At the event put together by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) people from many different sectors of the industry attended educational roundtables, panel sessions, and a mini-expo to learn and network as the industry changes and the market conditions continue to fluctuate.

As a sponsor of the event, members of the Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) participated both as attendees and speakers. Mabel Guzman, chair of the IAR Equal Opportunity and Cultural Diversity Working Group was a speaker on a panel discussing homeownership programs. Guzman shared all that the REALTOR® organization and our industry is doing to service both buyers and sellers, including our public policy advocacy and tools such as HouseLogic.

John Kretchmar, the president of the Partnership for HomeOwnership foundation was a panelist on the topic of “Employer-Assisted Housing” which involves employers who create incentives for their employees to live near work. While down payment assistance can be a part of such a program, many employers “keep it simple” and allow buyer classes over the lunch hour, or give time off for closings and looking for property.

I also participated in a roundtable discussion on buyer and lender issues.  Topics discussed were municipal fees and regulations that add to the cost of purchasing and how credit scoring plays a role and how it does not paint the full picture of a purchaser.

Many in the group were amazed that so many municipalities have fairly large transfer taxes and municipal home inspection requirements and agreed that they can be an impediment when someone may want to live in a particular town.

The keynote speaker at the luncheon was Governor Pat Quinn himself, who stated that he would keep housing in the forefront of his mind and he has a lot of work to do if the voters “renew his contract next week.”