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By Tiffany Brewington - Editor
Record Information Services
April 2011

In 2009, Record Information Services quietly launched a revolutionary new Website that serves as a public record notification system. The Website, WatchIllinois, sends out email notifications when there is a new public record filed on a person, property, or business. The service is similar to how credit bureaus have notification systems to let you know of identity theft through changes in your credit report, except WatchIllinois scans for changes in your public records.

Since the WatchIllinois Website launched, I have been using it as one of my marketing tools as a Realtor to help build relationships that could lead to new listings.

Here are a few ways that Realtors can use WatchIllinois’ public record tracking system to help their real estate business:

Watch properties for Renters

We all have friends and family who rent. I let them know that I can watch the apartments or homes they live in so that if there are changes in their public records, I am notified. Why would I want to do this? Because if their landlord goes into foreclosure, you could
A. Try to help the landlord sell, and get the listing
B. Help relocate the tenants by finding them a new rental property, or by purchasing a home, if they are qualified.
Also, if their landlord sells the property, they might not always be aware that they have a new landlord right away.

Watch REOs for buyers
I have gotten calls from potential buyers interested in properties that are no longer listed for sale. These buyers may have seen them on Realtor.com or Zillow, and the properties may have just become REOs, and will soon be headed back to the bank’s inventory for relisting. I have put properties into WatchIllinois for these potential buyers, so I am notified when the foreclosure auction sale has been confirmed, and when the bank gets the quit claim deed back from the seller. This will result in a new property transaction in the public records, and I will be notified of it through Watch. Now I can keep in mind that this property may soon be headed back to the market for my buyer to buy.

Watch properties for buyers
You may be negotiating a deal on a short sale that is almost approved, when BOOM… the property goes to auction and your deal is now dead. I can track properties in foreclosure that I am negotiating, and if an auction date is scheduled, it will notify me 1-2 months prior, so I have a heads-up (and can give the Seller’s Agent a heads-up too, since most of the time they have no idea where they are in the foreclosure process).

Watch properties for current sellers
You can watch your listings for sellers that are behind on mortgage payments, so you know when the foreclosure is first filed. You can also watch your short sale listings so you know when/if the lender schedules an auction date, so you can push for more time, or do what’s needed to get the property sold.

Watch properties for potential sellers
Some folks behind on their mortgage payments are not yet willing to jump the fence to try to sell their home before foreclosure. You can keep these homeowners on the back burner by offering to watch their property for them. You can watch their property pin number, and you will get an email notification if this property gets a lien, or has foreclosure filed against it. You can then let them know of the situation (sometimes they are not aware yet), and let them know how you, as a Realtor, can help.

How the Website Works
The Watch Website is easy to use. To begin, you quickly create an account, and tell it how long you want it to watch the item for (Ie: 3 months, 6 months, etc.). Then you purchase the number of items you’d like to “watch”. (Ie: you can watch one property for three months for only $5.95). Then you enter in the criteria you want it to search in the public records. For example, type in the PIN number for a property. First, it will scan all past public records in the system for that property. It looks through foreclosures, real estate transactions, mortgages, and bankruptcies. It will show you these records (if there are any) immediately. Next, it stores that item in it’s database, and emails you weekly to let you know if any NEW public records have been filed for that item.

Your Marketing Opportunity
It can be a great marketing opportunity as a Realtor, to make your clients (and potential clients) aware that you have the ability to track a property, even if it’s not in foreclosure yet. Anyone and everyone you meet have some interest in real estate, in one form of another. Letting people know of the tools you have available is a great way to create relationships that could turn into business.

Tiffany Brewington is an Illinois Licensed Realtor and Short Sale Expert with Chicagoland Residential Realty in Downer's Grove, IL