By Gary Mueller from Gary S. Mueller & Associates, LTD
I, for one, cannot believe that we are already half way through 2021! I hope this finds you well. I hope your business plan is progressing just as you planned. As you know, from time to time, I try to provide updates or information that I believe is helpful to all in the real estate industry. The following is the most recent attempt to fulfill this laudable goal.
Concerning scams----once again, I am seeing a resurgence in the use of letters trying to tell our clients that for “$89.95” (or thereabouts), our clients can secure a certified copy of their deed that they will “have to have” to prove to anyone that they own their home. The envelope typically bears an address in Springfield and has a logo that looks a great deal like the Illinois State seal, but it is not. Please make sure your clients, especially buyers, are not tricked by this scam.
Additionally, with our rash of storms in the area, the storm chaser scam is alive and well. The Storm Chaser Scam, as I call it, includes unsolicited people who come to your home or business and tell you that you clearly have suffered a weather event and the person asks if you will allow him/her to work with a contractor and your insurance company to get your property “fixed”. First, note that the person comes to you without your invitation. Second, note that the services that are being offered are “services” that you can do for yourself---if there truly was a weather event and you have insurance, YOU should reach out to your own insurance company to report the incident and let your insurance company do the job you pay premiums to have the company handle. Third, the unsolicited person typically demands that his/her company name be put on any checks you get from your own insurance company to make sure the Storm Chaser gets paid. In short, if you think you have suffered a weather event, contact your own insurance agent. If you are concerned about prior claims or requests (and fear this current weather event may cause the insurance company to drop you), ask your agent if your initial request is a chargeable or non-chargeable event. In most cases, if you are simply reporting a potential claim, the actual report is deemed a non-chargeable event; most often, there is no harm in asking if there is recoverable damage. The request becomes a chargeable event if you actually submit the claim and a pay-out of insurance coverage is made. Suggestion----work directly with your insurance agent. Most likely, you do not need someone else’s help to deal with your own insurance company.
Concerning tax prorations and the real estate industry, I am fielding a large number of requests about exemptions to real estate taxes and whether or not a homeowner has to apply for exemptions. As all of us are likely aware, pre-COVID, one may have to file annually to retain a senior exemption, veteran’s exemption, or senior freeze. Last year, the Governor indicated that no forms would be required for 2020 taxes due in 2021. Though there is a bill that has passed both houses (HB 3289) that will provide that 2021 taxes due in 2022 would not require an owner to file the paperwork for the exemptions, the Governor has yet to sign the bill. As of this writing, the Governor has 664 bills that have passed both houses and are awaiting his action----veto or sign. Though all anticipate the Governor will sign HB 3289, there is no confirmation of his approval. I would urge you and/or the attorney with whom you work in your team to constantly monitor the status of this bill so that your client knows whether or not prior exemptions will carry over in 2021.
Concerning the lifting of the moratorium on evictions/foreclosures----it appears that the moratoria at the Federal and State levels may be lifted in July. While some in our industry think that many in the real estate industry will be able to negotiate agreements to either get out of the foreclosure or to be able to re-rent current properties, others in our industry are concerned about the potential onslaught of evictions and foreclosures. I do not know what is more likely to happen. As I caution often, make sure you keep informed about what is happening in our industry. As the foreclosures and evictions may affect current clients or may determine if you garner more business as more properties become available for worthy buyers, keep your eyes on these matters. Stay ahead of the curve.
Thank you for allowing our office to work with you. We hope all continue to do well in this market.