Real Estate Information Archive


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by The Rick O’Connor Group

          Realty Executives Cornerstone was amongst the top ranking offices to be honored at the annual Realty Executives Great Lakes Region awards evening last month on February 26th. The formal evening event recognizes the achievement of each office on an annual basis, as well as the individual Executives, Executive Teams, and Office Administration involved in day to day operations of the brokerage(s), was held at Maggiano’s in Oak Brook. A total of 176 individual Executives and four Executive Teams were honored in addition to seven offices receiving top awards.

            Realty Executives Cornerstone, which operates locations in both Crystal Lake and Algonquin, received its' third consecutive Executive Administrative Professionals Circle of Excellence Award. REO Manager Victoria Suthers accepted the award on behalf of the office. In order to receive the award, offices are held to a series of requirements varying from administrative procedures to continuing education. Realty Executives Cornerstone was one of seven offices to receive the award for 2013.

            One of the two teams associated with the Cornerstone brokerage, Team High (consisting of the husband/wife duo of Mitch and Tara High), received a Top Team award for 2013. Team High was ranked 2nd amongst the region in number of listings taken throughout the year and 3rd in both dollar volume of listings and number of closed transactions. In addition to Team High’s award, 7 additional Executives were acknowledged for their contributions in 2013. Yolanda LaLuz received the Bronze Award for closing transactions up to $2 million in volume, Tim Lisack, Tammy Mrotek, and Michelle DeLaughter each received Silver Awards for closing between $2 and $5 million in transactions on the year, and Larry Lang, Laura Hastings, and John Milazzo each walked away with Gold Award honors, tallying between $5 and $10 million each in 2013. Broker/Owner Rick O’Connor is extremely proud of the continued success of his Executives. “It is truly a blessing to be working beside such a hard-working group of Executives. I am thankful to have them on my team,” O’Connor expressed following the event.

Meet the Newest Members of the Realty Executives Cornerstone Family!

by The Rick O’Connor Group

Yolanda LaLuz is one of our latest additions here at Realty Executives Cornerstone. Yolanda is a resident of Huntley where she enjoys spending time with her husband, son, step-daughter and grandchildren. In addition to her 13 years of real estate experience, Yolanda also holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology and has worked for the State of Illinois. Outside of work, Yolanda’s hobbies include baking, cake decorating, shooting, traveling, and scrapbooking. When asked what her passions are, she stated “Real estate is a passion of mine, I love working for this office because it’s so fast-paced and hectic. I really enjoy that. And I love traveling to anywhere warm, especially the Caribbean Islands.” Born in Puerto Rico, Yolanda uses her fluent Spanish speaking abilities to hone in on the Hispanic clientele in our area. She hopes to continue to focus on those clients and really work on short sales amongst the Hispanic community because she feels they need an agent who can properly represent them despite the language barriers that exist in our country. We are very proud to have Yolanda on our team and know her success and passion will continue here within our office.

Mitch and Tara High also recently joined the Realty Executives Cornerstone family. The husband/wife team came into the real estate business after 8 years of financing experience. They came to Realty Executives two years after obtaining their licenses. “We wanted to learn about the REO listing aspect of real estate,” Tara explained. “When we decided to make the move, we wanted to go to a place that did things the right way,” she added. Their family has resided in Lake in the Hills for over a decade, so they are very familiar in the area. Outside of working for both buyers and sellers in the industry, Team High enjoys spending time with their children and rehabbing homes when their schedules allow them to do so. The Highs take pride in their ability to work with any and all clientele they cross paths with and will do whatever it takes to make a home close. “We do what we need to do, even if that means pulling out the paint brush and touching up some peeling paint,” Tara said. Mitch and Tara have been a tremendous addition to our team and we are proud to have them on board here at Realty Executives Cornerstone.


Phillip and Liz Mazur joined the Realty Executives Cornerstone family as our second husband and wife team. The Mazurs decided to join our office after selling a few of our office’s listings. “After being offered an opportunity to sit down with them (Rick and Victoria) and Bruce Vinnick and hearing what their office had to offer, we thought we could build upon our current successes,” Liz explained. Phillip had been licensed for a decade before joining Realty Executives while Liz first became licensed in 2011. Before tackling real estate, the Mazurs worked in the restaurant industry and sales respectively. Liz received her Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia College of Missouri in Criminal Justice before entering the working world as well. The Mazurs both have designations for working with distressed properties and specialize in residential real estate. They are still working toward finding their niche in this ever changing market, but are very successful in their current endeavors. Residents of Crystal Lake, they spend their free time with their children, Austin and Addysen. They share a passion for their families, but their interests are different. Phillip loves woodworking and playing pinball while Liz enjoys cooking, baking, and reading when real estate isn’t taking up all their time. “There’s always something to learn in this business. We’re always meeting new friends. Realty Executives seems to attract good people,” Liz stated. We are proud to have them on board here at our office and know they will continue to succeed in our office!

Diane Christ became a member of our team in August 2013 as both a broker and a Vice President of Business Development. Diane has held her real estate license in Illinois for over 10 years with past experience in a number of other well known brokerages such as Century 21 and Prudential Starck. As a recruiter, Diane will be sharing her knowledge of the vast number of tools and systems exclusively available to Realty Executives offers with fellow executives and all new recruits. Diane was drawn to Realty Executives due to the ability to expand her career and help further the careers of others with the cutting edge technology offered by Realty Executives. Diane will serve as the certified Marketing Services Assistant to some of our existing executives as well as all new recruits interested in her assistance. She has spent a lot of time mastering the new tools and systems available to our team including mobile marketing, campaign emails, and executive branded websites. Beyond real estate, Diane enjoys the company of her husband and their three children in their Wauconda home. In her spare time, Diane enjoys challenging her brain with any type of puzzle she can get her hands on. Some of her favorites are jigsaw, Sudoku and celebrity cipher puzzles. She also enjoys reading. As a broker, she plans to develop a market niche within the Realty Executives Cornerstone family. “Everyone has been so nice and welcoming,” Diane explained. “Rick and Victoria were both so nice and talked about the office being like a family. I liked that,” she elaborated. Her interest in interior decorating and architecture lead her to choose the real estate field and become passionate about working with home buyers. Other than real estate, Diane invests a lot of effort in supporting the ongoing fight to further cancer research. We fully support Diane in her passions and know she will be a tremendous asset to our office family.

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by The Rick O’Connor Group

I'm often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall further than they have already. They are assuming that the best course of action is to wait for the bottom in the market and then buy. The problem with this approach is that you don't know where the bottom is until you see it in the rear view mirror, meaning until you've missed it!

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have gone up in the last six months, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, if home prices come down a little further but interest rates up, it could cost you even more to service a mortgage on an identical home!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates and low home prices, rather than to hope for a further break in prices in the future.

Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.

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Contact Information

The Rick O’Connor Group
Realty Executives Cornerstone
7115 Virginia Rd.
Crystal Lake IL 60014
Cell: 815-790-7200
Fax: 815-459-1112