When Dan Wagner resigned from his position as president of Illinois Realtors, many wondered what they would mean for the association going into next year. But Illinois Realtors president-elect Ed Neaves says the association is primed about the unexpected change, and instead is embracing the new responsibilities that he will assume in 2019.
In this interview with Chicago Agent, Neaves discusses what he loves about being a part of Illinois Realtors, the work that he hopes to achieve in the coming year for Realtors statewide and his efforts to inform the public about what Illinois Realtors can do for them.
Chicago Agent: How has Dan Wagner stepping down changed or impacted your plans for 2019 and the work Illinois Realtors plan on doing?
Ed Neaves: It was a quick turn of events, but Matt, Sue and I are working together moving forward, and I don’t see any problems ahead. We will be meeting to nail down the goals a little bit better, but the good thing is that all of us have been in talks and meeting before Dan stepped down. Everything we decided beforehand was a majority vote, so nothing changed as far as our goals are concerned. What has changed is that I am handling more presidential duties, and if I can’t take it on, I have Matt and Sue to jump in. It is just a little bit different than I expected.
When situations change, it is less about the situation and more on how you respond that matters. We all came together and got on the same page very quickly. I wish Dan could have stayed on, but it has been good so far.
CA: Why is Illinois Realtors such a valuable resource for Realtors? What programs or services do you think are most valuable to Realtors?
EN: As far as today’s groups and associations go, people are always looking for the value proposition and what the group will do for them. Not only do we invest money in local programs, advocacy and functions, but we get involved and educate local Realtors on the work we’re doing. People may not realize what barriers are gone because of the work that Illinois Realtors does behind the scenes on your behalf.
That’s part of what I am going to be doing — to reach out to the local Realtors and educate them on the programs and resources that Illinois Realtors has. One thing I will be doing is going to the local associations and going to local boards and committees and being the face of Illinois Realtors to let them know that we’re here for them.
We have a strategic plan that includes five pillars: advocacy, which is the work we do with RPAC and regulatory issues; education, we’ve expanded our online school and send out webinars and seminars to help Realtors on a number of topics; ethics, making sure that everyone is aware of our code of ethics and the mechanisms in place if people violate it; legal, we have a group of in-house attorneys so Realtors have instant legal access and they will answer questions our members have; and outreach, which includes partnering with local associations, the Women’s Council and more to make sure we have voices and representation on our boards and committees that reflections the diversity of our population of Realtors.
CA: What are some notable achievements for RPAC (Realtor Political Action Committee) in 2018? How will RPAC continue to protect Realtors and their clients in 2019?
EN: One of the big ones right now is rent control. So far four bills have been in about rent control and we were opposed to that and we got that defeated. We’re opposed to the way it’s coming down. Rent control on the surface is appears to be an easy talking point but we did research on areas that have enforced rent control over the years and the used the results to inform our stances.
There are thousands of bills that hit Springfield every year. In the last calendar year, more than 3,000 bills were introduced in Springfield, and all of them were reviewed by the Illinois Realtors to see if there were any that impacted property owners. Out of those, 160 bills impacted property owners.
CA: What are some of the most important 2019 goals or initiatives for Illinois Realtors and for you specifically as president?
EN: We are in the second year of our strategic plan, so we will continue to create a strong culture around RPAC and government affairs, educate local Realtors and make sure they are utilizing different grants that are available to them and identify issues that are impacting the public and educate them on the issues. As far as ethics goes, we want to continue to expand our program to make sure our industry is as ethical as possible.
CA: How did you get started in real estate?
EN: In the late 1970s, after I got out of the service, I came back to Bloomington-Normal to go to grad school. I wound up getting a job opening a local student lounge. There were quite a few Realtor types in there for lunch and happy hour, and I kept talking to them. A broker/owner approached me and asked if I had considered real estate. I said no. But one thing led to another and I became licensed. My first project with him was a corner storefront in front of a K-Mart that had four restaurant pods. He threw me out in the swamp and so I got four franchise restaurants and writing the leases and then I was hooked. It’s been a labor of love and have had my license as long as I can remember.
I still love the days of going out with the clients and seeing that look in someone’s eyes that find that property that is perfect for them. I still actively train with new agents and go out with them, so I am still in the thick of it.
CA: What inspires you most about being involved with Illinois Realtors?
EN: When you get behind the curtain, you see the amazing amount of work this organization does for its members. It is like everything else, until you get involved you take it for granted. There’s a staff of 53 in Springfield that work, along with a few in Chicago. The way they care about their members and try to take care of them is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. They’re a well-oiled machine. I’m impressed with the operation but more so with their empathy and their willingness to do anything for its members.