By Gary S. Mueller, Mueller & Associates, LTD
The more we think things are changing, the more they remain the same. At the time of writing this submittal, some parts of our area are seeing improvements in the COVID-19 numbers such that aspects of life are returning to a level of normalcy. At the same time, Will County’s numbers are inflating, resulting in a regression to prior restriction levels until improvement is realized. All of this continues while all are trying to handle the issues and concerns of day-to-day life, school, work, etc. Honestly, I pray daily for safety and health. I also pray for all with whom I connect that this pandemic CAN be addressed and that life CAN improve. It will take work on the part of all of us, but we are up to that challenge and we are ALL definitely worth the effort.
As you know, from time to time, I try to share insight into laws and market trends that affect our real estate industry. Today’s submittal will attempt to present some of those same points.
Concerning landlord/tenants---Governor Pritzker extended the moratorium on residential evictions through September 19. The eviction order does not, however, apply to non-residential properties. The State’s Landlord Association has sued the Governor to challenge the moratorium, arguing that there is no rental payment crisis in Illinois. The litigation is pending. I will keep you informed on the status of that challenge.
There are a number of laws that became effective in the last couple months. Contributions of members of the LGBTQ community to society should be taught in Illinois public schools. Students should be presented with history lessons that include the contributions of members of the LGBTQ community before they graduate from eighth grade.
The State’s minimum wage increased to $10 per hour from $9.25. Workers are to get annual, one dollar per hour increases until the minimum wage is $15.00 in 2025. In Chicago, the minimum wage went up to $14 per hour. The minimum wage in Chicago will increase to $15 per hour on July 1, 2021. For employers with fewer than 20 workers (in Chicago), wages will be required to reach $15 per hour by no later than 2023.
The State’s gas tax will increase another .7 cent per gallon. This is on top of the prior $.38 increase to help pay for road improvements in Illinois. Moving forward, the gas tax will be tied to the rate of inflation.
There are stricter penalties for distracted drivers. An individual’s driving privileges may be suspended or revoked when that person is using an electronic device while driving and causes great bodily harm. The offense is also subject to a minimum fine of $1000.
Further, drivers who do not yield at crosswalks and cause bodily harm may now have their driving privileges suspended for one year. The prior law only called for a fine upon guilty plea or a finding of guilt by a judge or jury.
What do you do in this environment to secure additional clients or more referrals from current clients in light of COVID-19? I am specifically referring to the lack of client contact at the closing table----the time that used to serve as a major marketing opportunity to solidify a client and more referrals from the client at the closing table? I find that I am sending out more post-closing letters----to provide a copy of the settlement statement when tax filing time approaches (even though the client received a statement at closing), for example. I am also reaching out via phone or text more often to check to see how the move went, how the carpet cleaning worked out, how the painting project has progressed, etc. The “extra” effort seems to be working and paying dividends already. I have seen an increase in referrals as well as an increase in requests for other legal services our office provides (like estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney for health care and business, and disposition of remains). This has actually been a favorable outcome from the pandemic. I trust that each of you is doing what you can to ensure that personal marketing is still achieved---albeit perhaps more through phone and email contacts instead of face-to-face meetings.
I hope this finds you and those dear to you safe and healthy. Please take care. Thank you for allowing our office to work with you and on behalf of your clients. Best regards---