Four Things Illinois Managing Brokers Should Do in 2019

To do list for businessman in notebook on office table. Grey background top viewThe new year is upon us, and it’s time to work on your annual business plan if you haven’t already done so. As a sponsoring or managing broker, you will certainly do many important things this year, but be sure not to lose sight of these basic strategies and responsibilities.

Establish Stronger Connections With Your Team

Whether you manage just a few agents or oversee the operation of a large organization, it’s important to build relationships with your team. Good working relationships often lead to better focus, collaboration, talent development and other positive outcomes that will help your company grow. Perhaps more importantly, effective communication with your team will help your office remain compliant with real estate license laws, rules and regulations.

One easy way to put this into practice is team meetings. Ideally, you can maintain a regular schedule of well-attended, in-person meetings that offer valuable interactions for everyone. But in the modern workplace, it may be challenging to drive attendance at in-person meetings, so don’t be afraid to use an online meeting app that enables you to collaborate virtually.

At each meeting, be sure to spend time on at least one key compliance issue. For example, you can help your sponsored agents understand rules and regulations surrounding advertising. While your office policy will dictate what styles and forms of advertising are acceptable to your brokerage, it is important to remind your agents about the do’s and don’ts of marketing. Educating your agents by using examples of appropriate and legal advertisements vs. inappropriate forms of advertising will help them understand what it takes to be compliant and successful while also protecting you and your firm.

Remember that Certain Responsibilities Should Not Be Delegated

It’s important to know what you do well and what can be delegated to others who can do it more efficiently or cost effectively. However, from a compliance standpoint, certain responsibilities should not be delegated to others.

As the real estate industry continues to embrace the concept of teams within brokerages, it can be tempting for a managing broker to delegate some of his/her responsibilities to a “team leader.” But the law is clear that this is not always permissible. Specifically, a managing broker must:

  • Have a written independent contractor agreement or employment agreement with each team member.
  • Compensate each team member. Sponsored licensees are only allowed to receive compensation from their sponsoring broker.
  • Monitor team advertising. Teams may advertise under the team name, but the name of the sponsoring brokerage must be included in all advertising.

Get Ready For Branch Location Changes

This year, the IDFPR’s Division of Real Estate will implement recent license law amendments, including elimination of the requirement for licensed real estate businesses to obtain an additional license for each of their branch office locations.

More details are coming soon, but we’ve received a lot of questions about how this change might impact an organization’s management structure. Similar to the current regulations, the individual who supervises the “main office” may supervise additional locations or designate another managing broker to supervise sponsored licensees at the remote location(s). Brokerages will be required to provide the IDFPR with details about the additional locations where they conduct business, but it won’t be necessary to have a separate license. Instead, these details will be managed through the IDFPR’s online services portal.

Update Your Policy Manual

Lastly, be sure to review and update your policy manual at least once per year. It’s important to incorporate policies into your manual as you become aware of new laws and rules that affect real estate brokerage. For example, you should consider including policies related to sexual harassment. You may want to address scenarios related to interactions with colleagues, customers, and clients. The appropriate information (and training – possibly at a team meeting), may help to prevent harassment and various types of discrimination. Additionally, taking reasonable steps to prevent harassment may help to limit a company’s liability if a claim is ever filed against your company or management team.

Real Estate Institute has been a leader in real estate education for 25 years, offering top-rated Continuing Education and Pre-License courses in multiple formats: Classroom, Live Webinar and Online Distance Education. Real Estate Institute’s team of experts is standing by to answer questions about your requirements, our courses and the renewal process. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-995-1700.

Last-Minute Tips for Brokers to Beat the April 30 Deadline

Motion blur shot of a cheerful business woman crossing the finish line (shutterstock_122081617)The license renewal deadline for Illinois real estate Brokers is only weeks away. For those who have yet to renew their licenses, this can cause panic. But it doesn’t have to.

Follow the steps below to maintain your license. Each step offers tips on the fastest way to stay compliant (so you can keep working).

Complete Your Education

Brokers in Illinois are required to complete education before renewing their license. The type of education depends on what date your license was issued. Find out the original issue date of your license by checking the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) license lookup page at their website.

  • Brokers whose licenses were issued before 2/1/2016 require 12 hours of core and elective continuing education. While live classes are permitted, self-study or online distance education (new for 2018), are the fastest and most flexible options. Self-study courses can be completed anywhere, anytime and require a proctored exam. Online distance education and classes don’t require a final exam, based on recent real estate license law amendments. Finding live classes in your area at this late date may be a challenge. We recommend trying out online distance education. Real Estate Institute offers convenient continuing education options here.
  • Brokers whose licenses were issued from 2/1/2016 – 1/31/2018 require post-license education. Half of this 30-credit-hour requirement must be delivered via interactive instruction, such as a live class or webinar. With limited time remaining, webinars are recommended because they offer very flexible attendance options – review your post-license education options.
  • Brokers whose licenses were issued after 1/31/2018 won’t have to renew until 2020, so no education is required at this time. Even so, these Brokers should complete their post-license education well before their deadline to get it out of the way so they don’t have to worry about it later. (Tip: You can get started as soon as 5/1/2018.)

Renew Your License

Most Brokers know that they must pay the renewal fee to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) but are unsure of the exact process. Read the following for specific details about the renewal process:

  • After completing your required education, you may renew the license. The IDFPR license renewal fee is $150 for the two-year period. (Tip: This close to the deadline, it’s important to find an education provider that will quickly issue your certificate of completion.)
  • The IDFPR strongly encourages Brokers to renew online. You may have received a PIN via e-mail from the IDFPR. (Tip: It’s not needed to renew.) The license number, plus one of the following is needed to renew: Social Security number, date of birth or the IDFPR-issued PIN. A paper-based renewal form is also available with this information.
  • You can begin the renewal process by visiting the IDFPR website and selecting the renewal method offered for your profession.

Real Estate Institute has been a leader in real estate education for 25 years. Our team of experts is standing by to answer your questions about your requirements, our courses and the renewal process. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-995-1700.

Should I Renew My Real Estate License?

Is it time to break up with the IDFPR?I’m probably not the only one with an Illinois managing broker’s license who is thinking, “Is this the year I officially retire from real estate?”  I’m sure that this is a question that echoes in the minds of many this time of year when we must complete our continuing education and renew our license. I have been licensed for over 31 years – that’s a lifetime! I faithfully complete my CE and renew my license every two years. It’s been a part of my life for so long.  But  I ask myself, is it time to break off the relationship?  Is it time to write that “Dear John” letter to the IDFPR?

At this point in my life, I am a self-sponsored managing broker working out of my home. I question keeping my license because I am not actively working with the public in real estate. Recently, I faced an IDFPR audit and survived. Believe me, even though I always do things by the book, I almost threw in the towel after that experience!  However, I still like to dabble: buy a house or two every now and then and help out an old friend or family member.

And now it’s renewal time … Should I or shouldn’t I?

And my answer is… I am going for it!  I am going to complete the 24 credit hours of CE and renew my managing broker’s license. I have given it a lot of thought and have decided that renewing is the right thing to do.

Here’s why…

As long as I continue to have a passion for real estate, want to  learn new things  and help a few others, I will continue to renew my license. I have worked so hard to get this far. Like I said, my license and I have shared a lifetime together, and I am not ready to break up!

Maybe this is the year I can make a difference. Maybe this is the year I can give back and become more involved.

I have not given up hope, folks. I’m sure you feel the same.  See you in CE class.

Can an Illinois Managing Broker Exchange Their License for a Broker License?

Managing Broker License Step DownThis real estate license renewal season, there has been an increasing number of Managing Brokers considering whether this license type is right for them. They want to know what it takes to “step down” from their current Managing Broker license to a Broker license. Although the Illinois Real Estate License Act was amended in 2013 to include this option, administrative rules to support this procedure have not yet been established. In other words, it’s complicated.

Some Background

Illinois real estate professionals might obtain a Manager Broker license for any of the following reasons:

  • To self-sponsor their own license
  • To sponsor other licensees
  • To act as a managing broker

However, the Illinois Real Estate License Act permits Managing Brokers to act in the capacity of a Broker (and be sponsored by another Managing Broker).  Presently, more than 40% of Managing Brokers are sponsored by some other licensee.  Many of these sponsored Managing Brokers acknowledge that they don’t intend to change roles and would prefer to “step down” to a Broker license.

In August of 2013, Illinois license law was amended so that Managing Brokers have an option to “return” their license and receive a Broker license in exchange.

Considering the Pros and Cons

If You Keep Your Managing Broker License… If You “Step-Down” to a Broker License…
Work Independently
You can sponsor yourself. You must be sponsored by another Managing Broker.
Work Independently or Sponsor Other Licensees You can be sponsored or sponsor yourself and other licensees You cannot sponsor other licensees.
Date of License Renewal Your license renewal deadline is
April 30, 2015 (and April 30 of subsequent odd-numbered years).
Your license renewal deadline is April 30, 2016 (and April 30 of subsequent even-numbered years).
CE Requirement 12 credit hours of Core and Elective CE plus
12 credit hours of Broker Management CE
You must complete 12 credit hours of
Core and Elective CE

Increased Interest Preceding the License Renewal

In response to the additional continuing education requirements (and related expense) for Managing Brokers, there have been more inquiries from licensees who are interested in “stepping down” to a Broker license.  These licensees want to avoid completing the 12-hour Broker Management CE requirement, which is an interactive course (and self-study is not permitted).

It’s Not Really An Option … Yet

Although the license law was updated over a year ago, the administrative rules that enable the IDFPR to support this change have not yet been updated.  Without this update, there is a lack of guidance regarding the forms, fees, and other details  necessary to implement this feature of the license law.  As a result, Managing Brokers are in a holding pattern and cannot actually complete this process.

Coming Soon, But Not Too Soon

The Real Estate Division is actively working to propose administrative rules that address this and other inconsistencies in the currently approved rules.  Given the process required to implement rule changes, it’s very unlikely that Managing Brokers would be able to “step down” before the April 30, 2015 license renewal.

What Should You Do?

If you are among the licensees waiting to make this change, you may be tempted to skip the Broker Management CE requirement and wait for the green light to exchange your license.  Don’t Do It! 

The license exchange option will only be available to active licensees (who renewed their license).  This means you must first complete your current compliance requirements, in order to be eligible for this change.  For details about your current license renewal requirements, look here.

Also, be aware that if you ever decide to give up your Managing Broker license, there’s no undo button. To become a Managing Broker again, you would need to have been licensed for two of the past three years, and then complete a 45-credit-hour pre-lciense course and pass the state licensing exam. (You would need to do this even though you formerly held a Managing Broker license.)

Still Have Questions?

No problem, call and chat with one of Real Estate Institute’s knowledgeable customer representatives:  800-995-1700

Important Real Estate Transition News – IDFPR Releases Combined Transition/Renewal Application

On February 1, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation released a new salesperson-to-broker transition application that combines the transition AND renewal fees on the same form.  Starting today, you MUST use this combined form.  There is a new online and paper-based application available at the IDFPR’s website.  Here’s a link to the application forms. All Real Estate Institute students who complete our 30-credit-hour transition course will receive the new combined application with their certificate of completion along with an envelope addressed to the IDFPR.  Your application, certificate and fees must be postmarked on or before April 30, 2012. 

 Please note: Salespersons who fail to meet the April 30, 2012, transition deadline will lose their licenses.  There is no late renewal. A salesperson who does not transition will need to take a 90-credit-hour broker pre-license course and pass the state exam to continue earning commissions and referrals.

If you have questions about the new combined transition/renewal application, please call the IDFPR at 217-782-3414.  If you have questions about satisfying the transition education and testing requirements, we have the following comprehensive resources available for you:

  • Transition Education Requirements and Online Enrollment – click here and select your license type.
  • Transition Frequently Asked Questions – click here.
  • Continuing Education Frequently Asked Questions – click here.
  • Transition/Renewal Next Steps – after you have completed your education and testing, click here for instructions on what you do next.
  • Real Estate Institute customer service representatives are available Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer your questions and complete your enrollment.  Call 800-995-1700.

REAL ESTATE AGENTS – Freddie Mac is Offering You a Holiday Gift

If you’re a real estate agent looking to pick up a little extra cash this holiday season (and which one of us isn’t?!) Freddie Mac – the nation’s second largest purchaser of residential mortgage loans – wants to help you make a quick $1,000.


Simple.   If you are the selling agent on an Illinois property owned by Freddie Mac and offered for sale through the HomeSteps™ program, Freddie Mac will pay you an additional $1,000 bonus at closing.  (Some other states are eligible for this offer too.) Only owner-occupied transactions are eligible for this incentive, and the initial offer on the property must be submitted between November 15, 2011, and January 31, 2012. Additionally, the transaction must close no later than March 15, 2012.  Your buyers are even eligible for a 3% closing cost credit and a free home warranty!

Full details can be found at

Happy selling!

Who is Winning the Real Estate License Transition Race?

In our completely unscientific study this week, it looks like broker licensees are in the lead.  We’ve had considerably more inquiries and more transition enrollments from brokers than salesperson licensees. Since salesperson licensees significantly outnumber brokers in Illinois, we found this surprising. 

We’re still scratching our heads trying to figure out why.  With all the time and effort that has been spent to obtain and maintain the salesperson license, letting it go just doesn’t make sense.  We assume a lot of salespersons still do not understand the change. Salespersons do not have the option of renewal. Transitioning from the salesperson license to the NEW broker license is the only option. So what’s the holdup!?!

  • Are salespersons waiting until closer to the deadline?
  • Are they waiting for the market to recover?
  • Are they hoping the state will change the rules?

The bottom line is that if the transition requirements (education and submitting the paperwork and fees to the state) haven’t been met by April 30, 2012, you can no longer work as an agent – no more commissions, no more referrals, no more license.  When an average commission would pay for 10 transitions, keeping an active real estate license seems like the right thing to do.  We know that the market will get better.  We know that there will be referral opportunities.  It would take legislation to change this law, and it’s just not changing.

It’s time to take back the lead! 

If you need help understanding transition education and the related state forms, give us a call at 800-995-1700 or visit our website.

Why Have So Few Illinois Real Estate Licensees Transitioned?

Last week, I attended the monthly meeting of the IDFPR’s Real Estate Education Advisory Council. At the meeting, it was announced that 5,082 real estate salespeople had transitioned to the new broker license through the end of September. Meanwhile, 1,898 brokers had transitioned to the new managing broker license category. 

That means roughly 90 percent of Illinois real estate licensees still hadn’t completed the transition process.

Common Misconceptions
Real Estate Institute fields transition questions all day long.  Most licensees who call us enroll for transition education.  However, when some licensees hear about the April 30, 2012, deadline, they seem to have no sense of urgency.  Unfortunately, this mindset could ultimately mean a loss of licensure. 

Based on my interaction with licensees who got in early and took the state’s proficiency exam, many licensees assume that transitioning is an easy, one-step process. For example, many of our students believe that by passing the state’s proficiency exam, they have completely satisfied all the transition requirements.  They don’t realize they must also submit an application for their new license.  For clarity’s sake, let’s break down the different transition methods that are available to licensees.

Salesperson Licensees

  • Salespersons who transition to the broker license by passing the state’s proficiency exam must complete the transition application and submit it to the IDFPR online or by mail to receive the new license. These licensees are also required to complete 18 hours of continuing education before April 30, 2012.
  • Salespersons who transition to the broker license by completing an approved transition course must complete the transition application and submit it to the IDFPR by mail before the April 30, 2012 deadline to apply for the new license. These licensees are exempt from continuing education for the April 30, 2012 renewal.
  • Salespersons who don’t transition to the new broker license will lose their license on May 1, 2012. There will be no late renewals. Salespersons who miss the deadline will have to start the licensing process all over again. This would mean having to take 90 hours of pre-license education and pass the state’s pre-license exam.

Broker Licensees

  • Brokers who transition to the managing broker license by passing the state’s proficiency exam must complete the transition application and submit it to the IDFPR online or by mail no later than April 30, 2012, to receive their new license. These licensees are also required to complete 18 hours of continuing education and 12 hours of classroom/interactive broker management education before April 30, 2013.
  • Brokers who transition to the managing broker license by completing an approved transition course must complete the transition application and submit it to the IDFPR by mail no later than April 30, 2012. These licensees are also required to complete 18 hours of continuing education before the April 30, 2013, renewal deadline. However, these licensees are exempt from the 12 hours of classroom/interactive broker management education for the April 30, 2013, managing broker license renewal.
  • Brokers who choose to remain a broker will need to be sponsored by a managing broker.  They are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education and renew their current license no later than April 30, 2012. Renewal forms for this purpose will be made available after February 1, 2012.

Still confused? 
You’re not alone! The IDFPR has told us that their call volume is high.  The wait on hold for licensees calling about the transition exceeds 40 minutes at most times of day. That’s why the Real Estate Institute has hired additional fully trained customer representatives. We welcome transition questions from company owners, managers, compliance officers and all licensees.  Call us at 800-995-1700 if you need more information.

The Latest News from the Real Estate Educator Association Conference

Recently, I attended the annual conference of the Real Estate Educator Association in Las Vegas.  I am pleased to report that the Real Estate Institute continues to be a leader in real estate education. I learned that we have already been utilizing the delivery methods and techniques that were first suggested by the regulators.  Some of the largest national providers of materials and technical delivery products are now beginning to suggest these methods.  Most schools are finally thinking about offering the type of web-based classroom broadcasts that Real Estate Institute has been doing for the last two years.

Is the Value of Agents Diminishing?
As a licensed broker, I was very interested to hear that the public continues to believe that real estate professionals are the best source for information about available properties.  Of course, if information about property inventories is the main reason buyers and renters are seeking our help, then we are in big trouble.  The internet will be replacing us before we know it. Training real estate licensees about how to emphasize the benefits of the other services they offer to the public was a recurring topic of the conference.

In Real Estate Institute’s new pre-license and post-license courses, we have been training new licensees to better serve the real estate needs of the public. For example, we concentrate on third-party negotiations, which are a huge benefit for prospective clients.  We teach our students how to proceed in transactions ensuring the best price for the party whom they are representing.  Our new continuing education courses will continue to address this issue.

Prospecting with Social Media
There was a lot of discussion about social media (facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) at the conference and the fact that only a very small number of licensees have learned how to take advantage of these forms of prospecting. Based on what I heard at the conference, the Real Estate Institute will be adding programs to assist our students in this area.

Could This Bill Jeopardize the Illinois Housing Recovery?

Good afternoon Chicago Real Estate, Mortgage and Appraisal professionals!  I don’t know how many of you follow the Chicago Tribune’s Home Selling Guide, but there was an important piece posted online this morning.  The article discusses proposed legislation in Springfield that would mandate that appraisers NOT use a judicial (foreclosure) sale as a comparable in residential real estate appraisals for a period of 12 months.

The article, written by Mary Ellen Podmolik, can be found here.

Why is this important?

Simple.  At first blush, this may seem to the average real estate and mortgage professional like a good thing.  I mean, which one of us hasn’t had issues with an appraisal or two (or 42) since 2007?  In a down market like the one we’re experiencing, a natural reaction would be to support any measure that purports to remove one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of our transactions.  However, it is critical that, should the legislation advance (which, I will admit is somewhat unlikely considering it’s been in the rules committee since January), real estate professionals speak with a unified voice against it.  In my classes and presentations, I’ve often referred to the “law of unintended consequences,” and it is in full effect here.  In my own frequently not-too-humble opinion, this bill won’t help things in the Illinois housing market.  In fact, it will likely have quite the opposite effect.

How could this bill jeopardize the Illinois housing recovery?

The problem is twofold.

  1. The bill ignores the free market and the law of supply and demand.  In some areas the majority of comparable sales are judicial!  To ignore them is to ignore a neighborhood trend that any buyer, acting in his or her own best interest, would not ignore.  Investors, who are beginning to enter the market again, would continue to make the same offers for properties – many of which are short-sales or already bank-owned.  Their offers would NOT in many cases be accepted (especially on short-sales) because the appraisals would (falsely) indicate that the market value of the property was much higher than the offering price.  Underwriters and bank loss-mitigation employees alike are already nervous about short-sale transactions that drastically over-appraise as indication of a potential “flop-sale.”* This would essentially stop home sales across the state in many depressed areas.  Sales that DO occur will have a high likelihood of involving uneducated buyers who may be being taken advantage of by unscrupulous professionals.  In other words, the very transactions that state and local governments across the United States have been trying to stop since 2008.
  2.  This legislation would have massive negative consequences even in areas that are NOT rife with foreclosures.  It would make every Illinois property INELIGIBLE for Fannie, Freddie, FHA, VA and USDA financing because Illinois appraisers would be required by statute to completely disregard USPAP guidelines!  (USPAP stands for the Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practice, which are the guidelines that all appraisers are required to follow in appraising all “federally-related mortgage loans”.)  USPAP already addresses these issues by providing that appraisers must give weight to distressed sales in their valuations when those sales are common for the area and have a direct impact on the value of the subject property.

I would be very surprised if this bill ends up on Governor Quinn’s desk, but stranger things have happened, and we must keep a watchful eye to avoid a possible complete shutdown of the residential real estate market in the State of Illinois.

*A flop sale occurs when a buyer, generally in collusion with an industry expert, makes a short sale offer that appears to be supported by a broker price opinion, but in reality the value is much higher than the BPO indicates.  The transaction closes and the buyer then proceeds to sell the property at the true fair market value, making a large profit at the expense of the bank who would not have approved the short-sale if it had all the facts.