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Relocating Navistar Employees Funnel More Than $50 Million into DuPage, Kane, Kendall Home Markets

While many transplants chose homes close to their new headquarters, others opted for properties with more open space, according to an area real estate agent.

This article was updated on Feb. 15.

Since Navistar employees began working in Lisle, moving from their former headquarters Fort Wayne, Ind., they have bought up more than $50 million in real estate in DuPage and nearby counties.

At a community event on Feb. 2, Navistar officials said their employees had purchased their new homes mostly through , Coldwell Banker, and @properties, with $50 million closed and another $4 million under contract. Approximately half of these transactions occurred through John Greene Realtor, according to Navistar vice president Don Sharp.

Navistar began phasing employees into the area in mid-2011. More than 3,500 people now work at the company's new headquarters on Warrenville Road, officials said.

Erin Connor, John Greene’s relocation director, confirmed the firm has closed on 74 properties, totaling $24 million as of the community presentation. She said another seven properties representing $2 million in sales were pending through their brokers.

Although local home prices have decreased since 2010, Navistar employees are relocating to a more expensive market.

The median home and condo price for Allen County, IN, where Navistar's former headquarters was based, was $101,000 for the fourth quarter of 2011. Median prices for the fourth quarter were $182,000 for DuPage, $157,000 for Kendall, and $138,500 for Kane, according to data from the Illinois Association of Realtors and the Indiana Association of Realtors.

The company spent $9 million in relocation expenses for those employees, according to a report from the Indiana Breaking NewsCenter.

Connor is responsible for pairing buyers with a compatible agent. She said Navistar employees fell "all across the board" in terms of home needs. She described them as a mix, mostly families with younger children, but also young professionals and "empty nesters."

Connor said that while agents closed many of the sales in the Lisle and Naperville area, employees settled across DuPage, Kane, and Kendall counties, including Oswego, Plainfield, and Yorkville.  

Connor said she traveled to Fort Wayne prior to showing clients homes in Illinois as a way to gauge their "expectations." She learned what employees were accustomed to in terms of space and amenities, travel times, and a sense of their communities. Connor found several transplants wanted to retain the "more rural" atmosphere they’d had in Fort Wayne. Those employees gravitated farther west.

What did they want out of their new home?

“Typically it was having a bit more space… where they were coming from they were used to having a bigger piece of land, where they maybe weren’t as close to their neighbors,” she said.

Larger garages that allowed “space for their toys,” or personal projects, such as car restorations, were also a frequent request.

Connor noted short commute times weren’t necessarily a factor because many were already making a 45-minute drive to work in Fort Wayne—albeit on less congested roads. However, she said some employees were “willing to drive 30 to 45 minutes to really have the quality of life they wanted.”

To aid in the process of home selection, Connor said agents pooled resources in nearby communities.

“I knew that a lot of the clients had probably been to Chicago, but not necessarily the western suburbs,” Connor said, so clients were provided with information on school districts, parks and forest preserves, and "what the communities were known for." John Greene Realtor also provides city guides on its website, specifically for those relocating to the area.

Connor said there is still a small percentage of clients, "probably dozens, that decided to rent in the short term.” She said some are waiting for their homes in Indiana to sell, while other clients are “taking a little bit of time so they can make an informed decision” about which community they choose.

Jane February 16, 2012 at 01:38 PM
The total market value of all residential property in DuPage Co for 2009 was 32,988,400,000 - more than 32 Billion dollars. That's the assessor's number as published in the County's 2010 annual financial report. Since then, the assessor has reduced the fair market values by about 11.1% (many would agree that the assessed values are now overstated). The reduction in value of residential property in DuPage Co has fallen 3.66 Billion dollars in the past 2 years. So I agree with George, this 50 million is a drop in the bucket.
Mike February 16, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Through a deal with the Illinois Government, Navistar retains all of the funds deducted from their Illinois employees paychecks. That money is NOT being used in your community is being kept by Navistar!
Jane February 16, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Mike - you are correct. This is the new legistlation that was passed recently. Navistar keeps the state income taxes that are withheld from their employees paychecks instead of sending the money into the State to be used for public purposes. Navistar is permitted to keep up to $64 Million of money that would go to the State. The State's primary source of revenue is income taxes. There are no state property taxes. Cities, villages, counties and school districts get a significant portion of their revienue from the State. The state collects the incomes taxes and then redistributes them back to local taxing bodies. Navistar keeps the money that would have otherwise gone to the local community. Don't you think the people that earn the money should decide how its spent?
Dick February 16, 2012 at 05:26 PM
It seems to me that this Navistar tax scheme is unconstitutional. The IL Constitution Art 9 Sec 1 states: The General Assembly has the exclusive power to raise revenue by law except as limited or otherwise provided in this Constitution. The power of taxation shall not be surrendered, suspended or contracted away. That second sentence prohibits the state from making agreements with private entities to release them from tax liability.
Maria February 16, 2012 at 08:15 PM
The $285 MILLION in fines the EPA will collect from Navistar for violations of the Clean Air Act with their diesel engines will help make up the difference to taxpayers. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/16/navistar-engines-idUSL2E8DG85E20120216

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