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

1. Update on the Crisis
2. It’s Affordable in Tennessee!
3. HOT LINE: Improper Use of Photos?
4. HOT LINE: Conditions on Compensation?
5. HOT LINE: Deposit In Lieu of Earnest Money?
7. Rates Jump Amid Financial Turmoil

1. Update on the Crisis

As this issue of the weekly TAR DIGEST goes to press, there is STILL no Congressional agreement on a “bailout” package to calm troubled waters in the economy!

It’s aggravated, as we noted last week, by the fact that we’re in the midst of an election season  …so it’s nearly impossible to find a reliable and OBJECTIVE source of reporting and analysis of what’s going on. Almost every news outlet has a bias and therefore a vested interest in fixing blame for this mess on one Party or another.

Hopefully, by this time next week, we’ll have a better idea of the damage, and the bill for that damage that taxpayers must pay!

[SOURCES: various]

2. It’s Affordable in Tennessee!

Among all of the negative news stories that crossed our desks last week, one news item actually was a “win” for one Tennessee city:

The cost of buying and maintaining a home is pretty reasonable if you live in certain Midwestern or Southern cities, according to Forbes magazine’s new report.

To determine America’s least expensive places to own a home, Forbes used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey, released Tuesday.

The survey reported the 2007 median monthly housing costs in the country’s metro areas with a population over 65,000. Housing costs include monthly mortgage payments, real estate taxes, various insurances, utilities, fuels, mobile home costs and condominium fees.

Here are the top-10 cheapest cities to own a home:

1. Cleveland: $978 a month
2. Columbus, Ohio: $1,060 a month
3. Pittsburgh: $1,187 a month
4. San Antonio, Texas: $1,216 a month
5. Indianapolis: $1,232 a month
7. New Orleans: $1,296 a month
8. St. Louis: $1,299 a month
9. Charlotte, N.C.: $1,336 a month
10. Cincinnati: $1,353 a month

*** END QUOTE ***

To access the original FORBES Magazine article that was the source for this report, go HERE.


3. HOT LINE: Improper Use of Photos?

QUESTION: I had a property listing that expired. A team with another company listed the property two days later and used my photos. This was reported to the MLS, and the photos were removed by the MLS. However, I showed the property a few weeks later and found that the agents have used my photos in their brochures.  Can they do this?

ANSWER: NO, this is illegal. Another agent should NOT use your pictures without your permission. In the United States, it is not necessary to officially register a copyright. Nor is it required to have any copyright symbols on the site.  It is enough to publish it on the website.

There are several articles on copyright issues that you may access on the NAR website located at WWW.REALTOR.ORG. In the search field on REALTOR.ORG, enter “copyright”. Articles there should help you. If the other agent will not agree to remove your photos from her advertising materials, then you may have to speak to a copyright attorney.

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

4. HOT LINE: Conditions on Compensation?

QUESTION: Can an agent place the following in the general remarks or agent notes for a listing in the MLS?

     “Please be aware that if you tour a listing with more than one agent you will create additional financial liability for you and the agent who prepares your offer.”

     “If you write an offer on this listing and your buyer toured the home with another agent there will be a 25% discount from your commission to compensate the other showing agent for that buyer.”

ANSWER: NO, this is not allowed. This appears to be an attempt to circumvent procuring cause. A MLS listing intended to be an unconditional offer of compensation. The agent is placing conditions on this offer; therefore, it is not allowed.

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

5. HOT LINE: Deposit In Lieu of Earnest Money?

QUESTION: I am working on a transaction wherein the offer includes contingencies. The only way the seller will accept the offer is if the buyer deposits with the seller a non-refundable down payment that he can cash immediately. Is this legal?

ANSWER: We do not know of any reason why that would not be allowed under the law AS LONG AS all parties agree to it. HOWEVER, if it is earnest money, call it earnest money. If not, simply indicate that it is non-refundable and will be delivered directly to the seller. You may also want to include language which states that it will be applied to the purchase price of the house.

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


Among other features, YouMail ( allows you to create a different, personalized voicemail greeting for each caller, based on his/her number!

It also lets you get your cell phone voice mail on a regular phone, by email, or online  …in whatever way(s) you wish. And there’s more….

This service is risk-free; there is NO charge for it! So explore the site and see if this tool can help you out!

[Hat tip to Nashville REALTOR Brian Copeland for this week’s productivity tip! It was also cited during Chandra Hall’s session on systems at the recent TAR Annual Convention in Chattanooga!]

7. Rates Jump Amid Financial Turmoil

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaging 6.09 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending September 25, 2008, up from the prior week when it averaged 5.78 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.42 percent.

The 15-year FRM on Friday averaged 5.77 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from the previous week when it averaged 5.35 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 6.09 percent.

“Mortgage rates followed Treasury bond yields higher this week amid market uncertainty over the current state of the economy,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “The latest housing information for the third quarter continues to show some softness in prices and sales activity.”

[SOURCE: Freddie Mac]


Oct. 2: Residential Forms Committee Meeting (TAR Office, Nashville)

Oct. 9: Surround Sound Training by NAR (TAR Office, Nashville) …this event “by invitation only”

Oct. 9-10: GRI 5 – Systems for Success (Memphis)

Oct. 16: Commercial Forms Committee Meeting (TAR Office, Nashville)

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