Now that new standards for Illinois brokers and managing brokers have been implemented, both the Chicago Association of Realtors (CAR) and the Illinois Association of Realtors (IAR) are planning new programs for their members that capitalize on the new interests and needs of Illinois’ real estate professionals.
Tina Stepaniak, the director of professional development at CAR, said the transition period was particularly busy for the association. In addition to the 8500 transactions it has completed thus far for transition purposes, CAR received 25,660 calls from March 1 to April 30 regarding the transition process.Barbara Matthopoulos, the senior director of communications and media relations at CAR, said that the association received more than 41,000 calls for all of 2011.
Now that the “rush has subsided,” though, as Stepaniak put it, the association is focusing its efforts on a new set of course offerings it plans to unveil in late summer. To develop the material for the courses, Stepaniak said the association has surveyed many of their members (especially managing brokers) to see what kind of training and information can best benefit Chicago’s agents.
In the end, Stepaniak said her rubric for the courses boils down to one question: “What can we offer that nobody else is offering?”
The Numbers Are Still Out
Last week, we reported on the most immediate numbers the IAR had on how its membership levels had reacted to the transition, and Jon Broadbooks, the director of communications for IAR, said that since then, those numbers are still the most definitive they have.
In a follow-up email, Broadbooks explained the nature of the data and reiterated those numbers: “Weekly, we get a computer data download from Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) that breaks things down. We haven’t gotten this week’s yet. The last one we had reflected that 30,700 members have transitioned, with the balance of our 38,434 members either not transitioned or just caught with their paperwork in but not processed yet by IDFPR.”
Also, another factor is the application process. The IDFPR still has thousands of applications to go through, and Broadbooks said it will be a gradual process as the membership totals are updated.
“We do know from checking daily with IDFPR that the agency processes about 200-220 applications daily on average,” he said. “But while we know they have processed more than 1,000 in the last week, we can’t break down how many are our members, yet.”
Stepaniak and Matthopoulos said CAR utilized a number of methods to inform both members and non-members about the transition process. In addition to the e-blasts, social networking and print-based messages the association sent out, it also hired temporary workers to handle the extra volume of calls, and the temp employees were always paired with more experienced staffers to answer more nuanced questions.
“I can’t think of anything we didn’t do to make it smooth,” Stepaniak said of the process.
IAR was similarly proactive in its outreach efforts. Broadbooks said that when he added together all the e-mails and Internet-related messages IAR sent out to its members from January 2010 to April 30 of this year concerning the transition and its many details, it totaled 7.5 million messages.
In addition, the association also released unique webinars for explaining the transition process, scheduled detailed phone trees to address frequently asked questions and provided supplementary training for existing education staff, said Ann Londrigan, the director of association outreach and marketing for IAR.
“We tried every way to reach [our members],” Londrigan said, adding that some of the webinars were made in correspondence with the IAR’s legal department to address some of the more technical details of the transition.
Broadbooks said he has been very encouraged by Illinois’ markets since the April 30 deadline, and going forward, he said he is very confident for the real estate market. With the economy improving steadily with each month, he said the increased opportunities for agents will more than make up for any possible reductions in numbers because of the new licensing requirements.
And for any aspiring individuals hoping to join that emerging market, both associations feature informative pages on their websites that lay out, step by step, how to meet Illinois’ new licensing requirements. CAR’s page features information about the Realtor profession, a list of available education courses to prepare for exams and how to join CAR, while IAR’s page features detailed explanations of the broker/managing broker licensing requirements and access to IAR License Law, a page devoted exclusively to the new licensing process.