Our new CEO Jeff Baker shares his 2021 outlook

Writen by Jeff Baker |

Published: January 6, 2021 |

Reading Time: 3 min

In 2020, we treated every challenge like an opportunity. Rest assured, we will take that same approach in 2021.

We recognize that times like these are a test, and we will continue to pass it by becoming sharper, helping you create a stronger real estate market and being an indispensable resource to all REALTORS® to make your businesses better. 

During the past year, Gary Clayton and I have focused the transition on analyzing each and every program and service to maximize member value. In 2021, we’ll be finalizing updates and changes to programming, committee structure and even internal departmental reorganizations, all again, with an aim toward making sure everything we do fulfills our mission to members.

We plan to do more to tell the REALTOR® story. 

REALTORS®, at the brokerage level, at their local associations and here at the state association do so much to benefit our communities. We can make those benefits more apparent to their neighbors, local elected leaders and even state officials and empower REALTORS® even more. 

Our Illinois REALTORS® is the voice for real estate in Illinois. REALTOR® education at local associations is through our best-in-class statewide real estate school; our local governmental affairs directors are located within local associations and they secure big and small policy wins for REALTORS® every month; our state association administers the Code of Ethics for the majority of local associations in Illinois; and obviously, we are one of the most influential voices in all the halls of the state Capitol. 

2021 is going to be a really important year for the state and the direction of housing policy. And our voices must and will be heard. 

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives, from housing to government budgets. For good reason, housing providers and property owners in general felt taken for granted throughout the pandemic. Almost every industry that was shut down or restricted from doing business was provided tailored stimulus relief, except housing providers. They were told they could no longer expect payment but they still had to continue operating at 100 percent. Property owners, some without income for months, are now told that rather than reducing municipal budgets, local governments will simply increase property taxes yet again to cover existing or even high levels of public spending. 

Additionally, Illinois faced a shortage of affordable housing before the pandemic and housing policies in urban areas were already reducing opportunity and producing further inequality. The effects of COVID-19 have just amplified these issues. Combine this with municipal budget shortages and crushing property taxes and our state is desperate for leadership that won’t simply repeat the mistakes of the past. 

Our Illinois REALTORS® believes more housing opportunity and more housing equality is the bridge to more economic growth for our state and our members. And our Illinois REALTORS® will be front and center on all housing policy issues because we know our members and communities need that from us. 

I’m looking forward to working with you in 2021!   

Meet Illinois REALTORS® CEO Jeff Baker

Jeffrey T. Baker took over as Chief Executive Officer of Illinois REALTORS® in January 2021. He becomes just the fourth full-time association leader in Illinois REALTORS®’ 103-year history.

  • Baker, who served as deputy CEO since 2019, replaced Gary L. Clayton who led the statewide real estate trade association for more than 30 years. 
  • Baker had worked in various capacities with the association since 2014, including serving as the association’s associate general counsel.
  • Baker is a graduate of the University of Illinois-Champaign, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He went on to earn a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
  • Baker has extensive experience working on state and congressional campaigns. He previously had his own law practice and worked for the Sorling Northrup law firm in Springfield.
  • Baker lives in Springfield with his wife, Kim, and three children.

About the writer: Jeffrey T. Baker - Chief Executive Officer Illinois REALTORS®

Your Illinois REALTORS® Legal Team