The Weekly Membership Newsletter of the Tennessee Assn. of REALTORS
Editor: Pug Scoville


CONTENTS
1. Responding to Online Leads
2. Ethics Education Reminder & Clarification!
3. TAR Nominating Committee Report
4. HOT LINE: “Unrepresented” Buyers
5. HOT LINE: Advertising Someone Else’s Listing
6. HOT LINE: Security of Client/Listing Files
7. VIRUS WARNING: CNN Alerts
8. Rates Largely Unchanged


1. Responding to Online Leads

With most buyers initiating their home searches online, it’s critical that agents master the new “etiquette” for dealing with Internet communications!

To help in this process, Michael Russer authored a recent contribution to REALTY TIMES — “Online Communication: Best Practices” — that specifically addresses how to respond to online inquiries and leads:

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
Without question, the vast majority of new leads come from the Internet. And given today’s challenging market conditions, you want to treat these inquiries like they were precious new-born babes. Here are the online communication “Best Practices” you can easily implement to make sure each has the highest possibility of turning into a full-grown transaction.
*** END QUOTE ***

To read the complete article, go HERE.

[SOURCE: Realty Times]


2. Ethics Education Reminder & Clarification!

There is NO “grandfathering” and there are NO exemptions for brokers or anyone else from the NAR ethics education requirement!

Between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2008, every REALTOR in the nation must take an approved 3-hour ethics course (2.5 hours plus time for breaks) in order to remain REALTORS, i.e., members of the National Association of REALTORS.

Far too many folks are confusing this ethics education requirement with Continuing Education requirements that many licensees must meet for license renewal. This has NOTHING to do with licensing! Instead, this ethics education mandate applies to all REALTORS in the U.S. and determines your continuing eligibility for membership in your local, state, and national REALTOR organization.

Your local Association of REALTORS must certify your completion of the required ethics education and can inform you of opportunities — both classroom and online courses — that you can take to satisfy this requirement.

Even if you are exempt or grandfathered from taking any CE courses, you STILL must take an ethics course every four years!


3. TAR Nominating Committee Report

The 2008 Nominating Committee for the Tennessee Association of REALTORS met on Wednesday, August 7, 2008 to consider nominations for 2009 TAR officers. The committee’s recommendations for election of officers for the Association in 2009 are as follows:

2009 President-elect — B.J. Swinehart, Knoxville
2009 Secretary/Treasurer — Emil Mongeon, Franklin
2009-2010 Division 1 Vice President — John Snyder, Memphis
2009-2010 Division 2 Vice President — Marlene Rakow, Columbia
2009-2010 Division 3 Vice President — Dwight Richardson, Cleveland

The actual election of TAR officers will take place on Thursday, Sept. 18, at the association’s Annual Convention in Chattanooga.

Congratulations to the nominees!


4. HOT LINE: “Unrepresented” Buyers

QUESTION: We are in a small town. One real estate company is convincing buyers to sign the buyer’s representation agreement, but misrepresenting it in the process. The buyer then comes to us. We ask them if they are represented (to which they reply “no”), show them a house, and write a contract. THEN this other company calls and says they represent the buyer. This happens often and is really becoming a problem. Is there anything we can do to protect the rights of these buyers?

ANSWER: FIRST, in order to protect yourself, ask the prospective buyer if they have been TALKING TO another agent, rather than whether they are represented by another agent. If they answer yes, ask them if they SIGNED anything with that agent.

If you feel that another agent is not explaining the buyer’s representation agreement to these people, then you may be able to file a complaint with TREC. If the agreement was an exclusive buyer’s representation agreement, then they are likely in violation of the Real Estate Commission’s Rule 1260-2-.36 which states:

An exclusive buyer representation agreement is an agreement in which a licensee is engaged to represent a buyer in the purchase of a property to the exclusion of all other licensees. When entering into any such agreement a licensee must advise and confirm in writing to such buyer the following:
(1) that the buyer should make all arrangements to view or inspect a property through that licensee and should not directly contact other licensees;
(2) that the buyer should immediately inform any other licensee the buyer may come into contact with (for example, at an open house) that he or she is represented by the licensee; and
(3) whether the buyer will owe a commission in the event the buyer purchases a property without the assistance of the licensee through another licensee or directly from an owner.

From a purely logical standpoint, if the agent had explained the above, a buyer should not be contacting another agent and telling them that they are unrepresented.

[SOURCE: TAR’s Legal & Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]


5. HOT LINE: Advertising Someone Else’s Listing

QUESTION: Is it legal or ethical for an agent with another company to advertise my listing without giving me credit?

ANSWER: An agent MUST indicate the actual listing company on the advertisement if he or she is going to advertise someone else’s listing.  Otherwise, this is misrepresentation in advertising, a violation of both Tennessee license law and the Code of Ethics. Furthermore, if the agent is using your photographs on the advertisement without your permission (photographs you took but did not give up the rights to), this could constitute a copyright violation.

[SOURCE: TAR’s Legal & Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]


6. HOT LINE: Security of Client/Listing Files

QUESTION: Aren’t the files in the office for active listings, as well as contingents and pending, supposed to be kept locked in a secure location to preserve the privacy of the information contained therein?

ANSWER: This is not a rule per se. We have spoken with the attorney with TREC, and there is not a requirement that all files are required to be locked.  HOWEVER, IF those agents operate as Designated Agents, the information contained in these files is confidential from the other agents in your office.  Therefore, they should NOT be kept in a central location where everyone has access to them. If they are in a central location, they should be kept in locked file cabinets, with access restricted to the Designated Agent for each client there.

If Designated Agency is part of your company policy — ask your managing broker if you are unsure about this — then the confidentiality of each client’s information MUST be protected …since someone else in the office may represent the other party in a transaction involving that client.

[SOURCE: TAR’s Legal & Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]


7. VIRUS WARNING: CNN Alerts

TAR DIGEST readers send us MANY virus alerts, most of which prove to be false or outdated, once we check them out. This one’s real! As of this past Friday…

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
The massive attack that has infected PCs by tricking users into clicking links in fake messages from CNN.com shows little sign of ending soon, security researchers said on Friday.

…on Friday, Websense Inc. reported that its researchers had seen the attack mutating, with the spam subject heading not only touting “CNN Alerts: My Custom Alert,” but also using legitimate news stories culled from CNN to make the messages more convincing.

Users who clicked on the “FULL STORY” link in the message were redirected to a fake CNN site, where they were told they needed to download an update to Flash Player, Adobe Systems Inc.’s popular Internet media player, to view a video clip from CNN.

…If users agreed to download the bogus Flash update, they were trapped in an endless loop, where clicking “Cancel” in the initial dialog produced a second pop-up. Clicking “Cancel” there returned the user to the first pop-up. The only options at that point were for users to shut down the browser or give in and install the malware.
*** END QUOTE ***

If you see a message come into your inbox with the SUBJECT heading “CNN Alert,” delete it immediately! Don’t open it and — by all means — don’t click on any links within the message!

[SOURCE: PC World]


8. Rates Largely Unchanged

Freddie Mac reports that long-term mortgage rates held steady during the week ended Aug. 7. Interest rates on 30-year fixed loans were unchanged from a week earlier, at 6.52 percent, but were down slightly from 6.59 percent at this time last year. Movement on borrowing costs for other types of loans was mixed, with the rate on 15-year fixed mortgages bumping up to 6.10 percent from 6.07 percent but the average interest on adjustable-rate products dipping. One-year ARMs dropped to 5.22 percent from 5.27 percent, while five-year ARMs settled at 6.05 percent compared to 6.07 percent last week.

[SOURCES: Freddie Mac; Information, Inc.]


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