Chicago Relocation

Prominent Relocation Names Featured at RDC/ERC This Summer

July 31, 2009

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Over one hundred industry leaders recently attended the Relocation Directors Council spring meeting in San Diego CA. As stated in their newsletter – “Michi Olson, GMS and her committee of Anne Incorvia, Debbie Robinson, CRP, GMS, Tammy Carroll, CRP, GMS and Claire Clarke, CRP provided us a memorable and informational packed meeting complete with hot topics that were addressed by a virtual who’s who of our industry.”

Participants included:

Real Estate, Corporate and Relocation Management Representatives:
· Pam O’Connor, President/CEO – Leading RE Companies of the World®
· Freda Ingram-Brown, Senior Vice President, Relocation, Bank of America
· Denise Nicco, Director of Relocation, PG&E Corporation
· Janelle Piatkowski, President, Cornerstone Relocation
· Tom Colucci, Director of Real Estate Services, MSI Mobility
· Michael Nasr, Vice President, Director of Client Services, Country
· Allison Basley, CIG Marketing Director, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage
· Linda Hawkins, President, Winkelmann Realty

RDC Member Panel included:
· Teresa Howe, CRP, GMS,
· John D’Ambrogio, CRP, GMS
· Jan Harbor, CRP
· Patricia Pollard, CRP, GMS
· Sharon Michnay, CRP, GMS

In addition, Karen Reid, Worldwide ERC‘s Interim Executive Director, made her first official presentation since assuming her current role. To quote Karen,”I can’t thank you and RDC enough for the warm welcome I received at the RDC meeting. It was the best possible way for me to start the conference with my new responsibilities!”


Hear John Sable discuss the Web and Transferees

July 29, 2009

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Hear John Sable, Active Web, as he discusses the web and relocating transferees – How they will want to use Google and other search engines to help them in the process. He discusses mapping, mash-ups of amenities, and the search for “local real estate experts,” etc. In particular, he has some interesting comments on real estate and social networking.


The End Is Near?

July 23, 2009

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My colleague here at Rubloff, Ross Nemzin, has shared his thoughts on a recent Rubloff Chicago News offering.  Ross, who is earning a degree in real estate while working at Rubloff, can be reached at

Last week’s Rubloff News offered an optimistic article on the state of the economy.  The Conference Board, a non-profit organization that “creates and disseminates knowledge about management and the marketplace,” has a Leading Economic Index that suggests the end of the recession is almost upon us.  Reasons for the optimism are an increase in seven of their ten indicators, including supplier deliveries, interest rate spread, and stock prices.  Other factors include increased consumer confidence, less market volatility, and the stabilization of the housing market.

But has the housing market actually hit rock bottom?  Those who say yes, we’re at the bottom, are likely to cite April’s 3.6% decrease in the supply of homes.  They would go on to mention that this reduction came in a month where housing inventories usually increase as a result of the spring home-shopping season.  They might also tell you that according to Zip Realty, the April housing inventory in 29 major metro areas was down 21% or, according to the National Association of Realtors, only 3.7 million homes were listed for sale nationwide at the end of March, a 10% decrease from last year.  With all this empirical evidence, how could anyone refuse to say the housing market has bottomed out?

The reason someone could deny rock bottom is that these numbers do not include all of the foreclosed homes that banks are trying to sell.  Estimates are that the nation’s largest banks are listing only about 60% of foreclosed homes.  Other estimates say that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae only list roughly 35-50% of their foreclosed homes.  This is because some foreclosures are offered as rentals while others need repairs, face pending litigation, or are delayed for some other reason.  The inclusion of these homes would greatly alter the above data.  In addition, Barclays estimates that foreclosed homes have increased by 100,000 from a year ago and that the number will peak in mid to late 2010.  So while it is safe to say that the housing market is very close to bottoming out, it may not actually be there yet.

It is more likely, however, that housing in many local markets has bottomed out.  Real estate markets are “hyper-local,” meaning that a national average of all markets may not apply.  I like a quote by Andrew Waite, a former institutional investor who said that combining real estate data in two different markets is like “a weatherman who combines conditions in Nome, Alaska and Clearwater, Florida and issues an ‘average’ national forecast of 45 degrees.”  Instead, Waite says real estate must be segmented multiple times—by neighborhood, price point, cap rate, and many other factors—to get a real feel for how a particular market is doing.  According to his analysis, many US cities have already hit rock bottom.

The good news is that most US homeowners (19 out of 20) do not plan to sell their house in a given year.  So, if there’s no rush to sell your home, chances are it will recuperate much of its worth over the next couple of years.

Hopefully the rest of the economy follows suit—sooner rather than later.


The Ritz Residences begins its ascent!

July 16, 2009

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As told by our intern Ross Nemzin – The Ritz-Carlton Residences recently began its ascent to the pinnacle of Chicago’s luxury homes with its ceremonial ground breaking at 664 N. Michigan Avenue.

While other developments have struggled in a weak economy, demand and interest in The Ritz-Carlton Residences have been tremendous.  With construction financing ready to go, over 40% of homes sold and just 49 units remaining, the creation of Chicago’s newest standard in luxury homes is in high gear.  The Residences, designed by French architect Lucien Lagrange, contain 88 units in an elegant 40-story building.  The Parisian-style tower will incorporate the 1930s modern art look with an exterior featuring flying buttresses, carved panels, and a crown of lighted art glass. 

The Residences’ interior, gracefully designed by Darcy Bonner and Associates, features “The Landmark Club”, a private club on the 10th floor.  With its beautiful architectural features and extravagant amenities, the club will redefine standards of luxury and service.  The club, staffed and managed by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, will feature a grand salon, dining room, spa, billiards room, wine cellar, screening room, and fitness center.  

For more information, please contact Rubloff.



Back to Basics! Words of Wisdom from The Relocation Team at Edina Relo Team!

July 10, 2009

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Back to Basics!

Remember way back to 1980… when you handwrote cards and letters, made a trip to the post office to mail them with a stamp in order to have written communication. You made phone calls to home phones and sometimes got an answering machine that you weren’t’ sure about leaving a message on but did anyways? You leafed through hundreds of pages in the MLS books to find just the right homes for people…

OK, it wasn’t the dark ages and there were technological advances that we started taking advantage of. Yet now, digging deep into our past, and using all that knowledge … that’s what makes the difference in our company. Agents are reconnecting with some of the basics in the way we use to handle Real Estate communications.

Real Estate transactions are a very personal and emotional experience whether you are the seller or buyer. In an age where technology rules our industry, as well as every other field, we find remembering and getting back to the basics is making a difference.

We are discovering that in a time where communication has never been easier, instead of just an email. Picking up the phone to have a real conversation with someone at the other end of the phone isa lot more personal, meaningful and tends to last longer. We are taking the time to really listen to our clients, all to create a lasting, long-term connection.

As a company wide initiative, we are holding more Open Houses, reaching out and meeting our client’s face to face.  We share recipes, games, puzzles, and experience, realizing how important life-long client relationships are.

Technology is a good thing. It makes our lives easier and helps in our day to day activities. It elevated and educated us as consumers. It is a moving entity that we need to be changing with.  Yet, basics…   we are in the business of sales. Communication, availability and follow through are the key to closings.  We’ve had a great spring, we sold 40% of our inventory in two months and look forward to and are excited with the upward movement in our market. We are doing something right!

If you need assistance with moves into or out of, Minnesota, Western Wisconsin or Fargo North Dakota, contact us at Edina Realty Relocation.


“When in the course of human events” or “What does the Declaration of Independence have to do with real estate?”

July 3, 2009

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A few hours ago, over rice crispies with my six year old, we were discussing what The Fourth of July means.  Predictably, to my Katie it means a carnival, fireworks and staying up late. So of course when it was my turn I rattled off “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Like most Americans, her eyes glazed over.  She liked the “happiness” part though.  She’s six, so I’ll forgive her.  Although I do love that she calls the Union Jack the “sad flag” (she’s Irish!). So is there any correlation?

So is there a correlation?  Well, while we’ll give a nod to the Greeks for pioneering the idea of democracy, the founding fathers really did push the envelope.  While manifest destiny and the tabula rasa on the frontier was not truly accurate (we forgot about the native nations that happened to already live there), the concept of property rights vs. landed gentry and the whole “serf living on the kings land at his pleasure” concept was thrown out the window in the new world.  The government granted those who worked the land the right to own it, and with that came the right to sell it on an open and somewhat self-regulating market.  And that idea has really caught on.

Thank you, Mssrs. John Hancock, Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott, William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross, Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean, Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton, William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton.



A More Detailed Look at the Home Valuation Code of Conduct

July 2, 2009

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 My colleague here at Rubloff, Ross Nemzin, has shared his thoughts on the upcoming HVCC – One of four major changes coming to the relocation financing world in the next few months.  Ross, who is earning a degree in real estate while working at Rubloff, can be reached at  

As described in an earlier post, a number of new federal requirements in the housing industry will be enacted within the next few months.  One of those requirements, the Home Valuation Code of Conduct, has already been formally implemented.  In a broad sense, the HVCC is designed to ensure and improve the independence and accuracy of appraisals and provide increased protections for homebuyers, investors, and the housing market.  The HVCC has nine sections that each deal with a specific part of the new act.


The first section of the HVCC establishes controls and safeguards to ensure appraiser independence.  The main point is that all appraisers must be licensed or certified by the state in which the property to be appraised is located.  The other major aspect of section one is that nobody shall influence any part of the appraisal process in any way.  Section two requires lenders to provide customers with a copy of their appraisal or property valuation report no less than three days prior to the closing of the loan.  The customer does have the right to waive this requirement.


The third section of the HVCC involves appraiser engagement and selection.  Specifically, the lender must select, retain, and provide for payment of all compensation to the appraiser.  The third section forbids any influence in the selection of an appraiser for a particular assignment, including any communication that may have an impact on valuation.  Finally, any employee in charge of selecting appraisers must be trained, qualified, and completely independent of the loan production staff and process.


The next two sections focus further on the independence of appraisers.  The fourth section prevents improper influences on appraisers by describing specific instances in which an appraisal report cannot be used due to its impartiality.  Section five creates the Independent Valuation Protection Institute (as approved by the parties) which compels the lender to provide information to appraisers and borrowers regarding the availability of the Institute’s services, including a telephone hotline and email address and the publication and promotion of the best practices for independent valuation. 


The sixth section requires lenders to test the quality of appraisals and provide Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac with any irregular results.  In section seven, a lender is required to alert the applicable State office to any known violation of laws or unethical conduct by an appraiser or appraisal company.  Section eight forces a lender to certify that the appraisal report was acquired in compliance with the HVCC and lays out punishments for violations.  The ninth and final section deals with the scope of the HVCC and its affect on property valuation prior to its enactment.


So, what does all this legal jargon actually mean?  Well, first of all, Freddie and Fannie will only purchase loans that were appraised in compliance with the new Code.  In addition, many lenders are up in arms about the independent selection of appraisers, citing the fact that the HVCC has resulted in appraisers performing appraisals in areas they are not familiar with, the forced use of appraisers with less experience, and much lower appraisals.  Appraisers unfamiliar with an area are more likely to undervalue a home, which can destroy a deal if a seller is unwilling to list the home for that low of a price.  Further, there is an increased cost for the appraisal because the appraisal fee is now split between the appraiser and the appraisal management company.  The HVCC has greatly altered many aspects of a real estate transaction, often with overwhelming effects.