Surfing for Success:
Web Sites you should know!
By Kerry Kidwell, ABR, AHWD, CRB, CRS, GRI, ePRO, GREEN, DREI
TEC1713 - 3 hours elective IL credit
IDFPR – Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Easiest way to go directly to the real estate section
www.idfpr.com/realestate - agents should become familiar with this site! Home inspector, appraiser and Time Share Act information also on this site
License Lookup – tell when a license was issued as well as the sponsor
Also, is the person you’re working with really licensed?
Bulk Look-up – gives broker’s a way to look at all their sponsored licensees at once
Discipline Reports – learn from other’s mistakes
The Act and the Rules – scroll through or print out
FAQ – good stuff here – underutilized!
Staff contact information – consider using email
License Renewal – don’t wait until the last day!
CE Look up – what classes do they show. You will need your license number to do this.
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Real estate education page
Illinois testing service site: www.GoAMP.com
CE and PRELICENSE ONLINE
Must have a proctored exam – can’t be with a friend/fellow agent – can’t be online
Possible online testing in the future, under the new Act
Prelicense classes will have at least 15 hours of interactive case studies under the new Act
ILLINOIS TREASURER www.CashDash.net
2 parts – find money and turn money in
Assets sit forever – no interest paid
Requires an annual reporting by brokerage companies with escrow accounts, even if there is no money to turn
Disputed escrow amounts must be turned over at the 5 year mark. This period could be shortened to 6
months, if there is written demand from one of the parties and there is no lawsuit pending.
STATISTICS / DEMOGRAPHICS
Demographic information – be cautious in using it.
Generally can be used in a non-residential setting.
Better to send your clients to the site than print it off!
US Census Bureau www.census.gov
Fed Stats www.FedStats.gov
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Market stats from NAR
Another good site – www.City-Data.com
SEX OFFENDER www.isp.state.il.us
Can be searched by name or address
Let clients search the site – don’t investigate for them
Victims can now register to be notified if their perpetrator moves into their neighborhood
Other good sites; www.SexOffender.com www.FamilyWatchDog.com
Fair Debt Collection Act
Illinois Tenant Union - Chicago, Cook County and suburbs
Center for Renter’s Rights
Property Management Shop - Lots of forms, signs, etc.
Landlord Protection Agency - Satellite dish info, forms, etc.
IL Landlord/Tenant Act – State Attorney General’s basic guidelines
Institute of Real Estate Management - Lots of reference and forms
HUD- Sect 8 FAQ
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Lawsuits / Public Records
www.judici.com Court records for 51 courts, mostly in Northwest and Southern IL
? Search for all cases filed, disposed or docketed for a specific time
? Litigant info
? Criminal charges, dispositions and sentences
? Civil judgments
? Fines and fees ordered, balances paid, and payment details
? Hearing dates
? Case minutes
Vermillion County www.co.vermilion.il.us
Redaction Request www.co.vermilion.il.us/recorder.htm
Other stuff www.vercounty.org
Get test results by zip code
Find licensed testers and mitigators
Download brochures and forms
www.nsc.org/resources/issues/lead.aspx National Safety Council
www.epa.gov/lead Federal EPA site with lots of information
CLUE REPORTS www.ChoiceTrust.com
Find out property problems for past 5-7 years, through insurance company claims
Generally, must be ordered by the owner - $19.95
FLOOD MAPS www.illinoisfloodmaps.org
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DRUG LABS / METH HOUSES
New addition to Seller Disclosure law to require disclosure
www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/factsheets/meth-labs.htm Illinois Dept of Public Health
www.DEA.gov Where are they?
DEVELOPING A LEGAL WEBSITE NAME
www.realtor.org/letterlw.nsf/pages/TrademarkManual REALTOR? usage guidelines from NAR
Agent website MUST have company name and address conspicuously displayed on each page
When advertising property, the geographic location or city and state must be given
Cannot use the term “REALTOR” unless done under NAR guidelines
Must be a REALTOR?
Can only use with your name
Cannot use descriptors
Yes: JohnSmithRealtor.com No: BestRealtor.com
DEVELOPING LEGAL EMAIL SIGNATURE LINE
In general, there are 3 sources of regulation for all “electronic communication”: Illinois License Law, Federal
CAN SPAM Act, and, for REALTORS, the REALTOR?’s Code of Ethics. If you combine all three, here is what a signature should look like:
Prudential Snyder Real Estate
#1 Brickyard Drive
Bloomington, IL 61701
Illinois licensed real estate agent
To be removed, please hit “reply” and put “please remove” in the subject line
www.FTC.gov/spam CAN SPAM
www.realtor.org/mempolweb.nsf/pages/code Look for Article 12 in the Code of Ethics
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New HUD -1 and Good Faith Estimate must be used by January 1, 2010.
Agents should not accept or give anything of value when referring to another organization.
Disclosure must be made at the time of the referral to a related company.
www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/ramh/res/respa_hm.cfm HUD site
www.Realtor.org/RESPA REALTOR? overview
MORTGAGE FRAUD AND PREDATORY LENDING
www.MortgageFraudBlog.com Mortgage Fraud Blog - Lots of good cases
www.StopMortgageFraud.com Run by the Mortgage Bankers Association
www.idfpr.com/FAQ/BRE/toggleBREpredlending.asp DFPR’s Questions and Answers
www.ilapld.com Illinois Predatory Lending Database Program homepage
www.ResponsibleLending.org Center For Responsible Lending
COMPUTER BACKUPS & ONLINE DATA STORAGE
When was the last time you backed up? Where is the copy of your backup now?
What happens to your backup when there is a fire or a robbery?
www.Mozy.com 2gb free / $4.95 per month for unlimited
www.BackUp.com $49.99 for 25 gb
www.Carbonite.com $54.95 / yr – unlimited backups Iron Mountain www.iBackUp.com $9.95/mo – unlimited backups www.DriveHQ.com $2.99/mo – 2 gb – nice comparison chart www.Box.net Drop site
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www.Drop.IO Free drop boxes – up to 100 mb each www.mybackupbox.com A great, easy way to backup your stuff
www.LogMeIn.com Take control of your computer from anywhere
PHISHING SCHEMES and HOAXES – don’t be a victim!
www.snopes.com Is the story real?
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA011400021033.aspx Microsoft site- great!
Send deceptive emails to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The purpose of social networking is NOT to simply have an advertising medium. It is to connect with your
“circle of influence” and friends to gain top of mind recognition.
Facebook - www.Facebook.com - Create your own group
MySpace - www.MySpace.com - The original place to connect with others
Twitter - www.Twitter.com - “Follow” people around
Pipl - www.Pipl.com - More of a search site
LinkedIn - www.LinkedIn.com - For professionals
Plaxo - www.Plaxo.com
Spoke - www.Spoke.com - For business people
Ecademy - www.Ecademy.com - Connecting business people
Ning - www.Ning.com - Create your own network
Office policy for Social Networking (from the Illinois Association of REALTORS)
CONCUSION – New Sites
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SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
(Governing the use of e-mail, Internet and Social Networking Tools)
SSS, REALTORS? (Company) policy is that Company owned computers and Company provided access to
e-mail and the Internet are to be used principally for business purposes. (Personal use of agents’/employees’ own equipment and access secured on your own are covered by this policy when used for business purposes. When
using your personal equipment and access secured on your own remember that you are always licensed and
thus subject to regulation whenever you are discussing your business, even when using personal e-mail, the
Internet or social networking tools.) The Company recognizes that limited personal use of e-mail, the Internet, and social networking tools (such as Facebook?, Twitter?, Linked In? ,You Tube or “blogging”) can be a benefit to agents,
employees and other authorized users.
The use of technology in our business is changing at a very rapid pace. Therefore, this policy will not only provide
guidance with regard to the use of the Internet, e-mail and social networking tools in the businesses of agents/employees
of the Company but also general principles to be followed in using future technologies and communication. Note that this
policy applies when agents/employees are using e-mail, the Internet, and social networking in an effort to advance their real
estate brokerage business while using Company, personal or a third party’s equipment. The Company directs its agents/employees to follow the basic limits listed below; along with more specific requirements outlined in this chapter of
the Policy Manual.
1. Agents/employees must take care to protect their client’s confidential information at all times. This includes in the
agent/employee’s use of the Internet, certain email messages and social networking tools.
2. Agents/employees must be courteous and professional at all times, especially when representing the Company. This
includes the agents/employees’ use of the Internet, e-mail and social networking tools. Agents/employees shall not
make defamatory or derogatory remarks about others in their electronic communications. They will not engage in
gossip, rumor-spreading, “cyberbullying” or any similar behavior.
3. Agents/employees must take care to be truthful when advertising or making other representations. This includes those
statements made or advertising placed through use of e-mail, the Internet, your personal Website or social
4. Agents/employees are encouraged to seek the advice of their managing broker or the Office Internet Consultant
(identified on p. ) if they have questions or concerns regarding the use of the Internet, e-mail or social networking
tools before publishing any information that could be questionable.
Use of the Internet, e-mail or social networking tools while at the office of the Company or on Company equipment.
Use of e-mail, the Internet and social networking tools by agents and employees is subject to the
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1. Agents/employees may use e-mail, the Internet and social networking tools in connection with conducting their business
on behalf of the Company.
2. Agents/employees may not use e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools for personal use except during break
times, lunch time, and before and after normal working hours so as not to interfere with agents’/employees’ duties
for the Company.
3. Agents/employees may not use e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools for non-work related private business.
4. Agents/employees may not use e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools to participate in football, basketball or o
ther sports pools or leagues, or to gamble.
5. Agents/employees may not use e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools to conduct political activities (unless
expressly authorized to do so as part of agent’s/employee’s duties to the Company).
6. Agents/employees may not use e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools to visit any pornographic sites.
7. Agents/employees should not use e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools to discuss the business policies or
practices of the Company with any person outside the Company without first clearing that with your managing
broker. Agents/employees may discuss policies/practices of the Company with a client or prospective client, but
only through “private” e-mail and not through the use of social networking tools. 8. Agents/employees may not use e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools to transmit any defamatory, offensive,
harassing, disruptive, or derogatory statements or images; or statements or images that offend on the basis of race,
religion, ethnicity or national origin, sexual orientation, political beliefs or disabilities.
9. Agents/employees may not use e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools to distribute chain letters, search for
alternative employment, transmit jokes, or participate in Internet discussion groups (unless such discussion groups
relate directly to agent’s/employee’s job). 10. Agents/employees may not use e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools in any manner that may impair the
Company’s reputation or public standing, or that is prohibited by law or otherwise illegal.
11. Agents/employees may not use e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools to upload, download or transmit, without
the Company’s managing broker’s permission, copyrighted, trademarked or patented materials, trade secrets, or
confidential, proprietary or private information or materials, except to the extent that they are used by an
agent/employee in connection with a transaction.
12. Agents/employees should not use e-mail or social networking tools in any manner that would advocate that the
Company adopt or that would indicate that the Company has a position or policy in place that is anticompetitive or
which would otherwise violate state or federal antitrust laws.
The Company reserves the right to monitor, access, retrieve, read and (for legitimate business purposes) disclose all
communications by or to agent/employee with or without notice to agent or employee. Accordingly, agents/employees have
no right to or expectation of privacy in the use of e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools on equipment owned by the
Company. The Company has no obligation to ensure against authorized access to your e-mail or Internet use.
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1. When agents/employees are advertising properties using e-mail, the Internet or social networking tools they shall abide
by all provisions contained in the Illinois License Law, its rules, and the REALTOR? Code of Ethics. Examples
are including the Company name and information that makes the message truthful and complete in all advertising.
2. Agents/employees will comply with Federal CAN-SPAM requirements when using e-mail, the Internet or social
networking tools to transmit electronic commercial messages. (See p. of this manual for CAN-SPAM policy).
3. Agents/employees will not use deceptive key words, meta tags or other devices to deceptively drive traffic to an
4. Agents/employees will make sure that all advertising information given via email, the Internet or social networking tools
is current and accurate. Information should be checked at least every days for accuracy and freshness.
5. Agents/employees will comply with all Fair Housing laws or regulations (federal, state, local and ethical) when using e-
mail, the Internet or social networking tools in their businesses. (See p. __ of this manual for fair housing policy).
6. Agents/employees will discuss with client(s) the advertising/marketing to be done on their behalf including the use of e-
mails, the Internet and social networking tools to market properties. Agents/employees must note if there is any
objection to marketing via use of these methods and if so, avoid such marketing methods.
Collection of Information
1. Agents/employees may not collect consumer information through the use of email, the Internet or social networking tools
unless the agent/employee:
ith the information gathered; and,
1. Agents/employees are required to follow the provisions set forth in Section 1450.145 in the Administrative Rules under
the Illinois Real Estate License Act of 2000 as from time to time amended.
2. Agents/employees are also required to follow the provisions set forth in the federal CAN-SPAM Act as from time to
3. Agents/employees should make sure they double-check any text they are sending or posting via e-mail and to whom it is
being sent before they hit the “send” button. 4. Agents/employees are required to print those e-mails that deal with specifics of a transaction or authorization to perform
a service or task and to place those printed copies in the appropriate transaction files.
1. Agents/employees may participate in “blogging” in relation to their business as a real estate licensee so long as they
follow all the policies and procedures set forth in this manual with regard to the use of e-mail, the Internet and
social networking tools.
2. If agents/employees wish to establish a blog, they should contact their managing broker or the Office Internet Consultant
identified on p. ____ of this manual. When establishing a blog, agents/employees should work with the Office
Internet Consultant on posting “terms and conditions” that will apply to the blog.
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