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


CONTENTS
1. Average Commission Rates Rise
2. The Economy May Be Turning a Corner
3. HOT LINE: Being Paid at Closing?
4. HOT LINE: Magnetic Car Signs?
5. HOT LINE: Giving TAR Contracts to Others?
6. WORKING SMARTER: The Hipster PDA
7. Upcoming Events & Courses
8. 30-Year Rates Hit Record Low!


1. Average Commission Rates Rise

Despite the fact that commission income is down for most REALTORS in our sluggish economy, the good news is that – after several years of declines – average commission rates are RISING. Bernice Ross, frequent columnist for Inman News, explains this phenomenon in an interesting article, “Commission rates up, but agents earn less.”

She notes, “In a buyer’s market, the ‘value’ of an experienced agent who can close a difficult transaction increases dramatically. Despite the tremendous number of REO, short sale and foreclosure properties where commissions are normally set at 5 percent or less, commission rates in 2008 increased just as they have in previous buyer’s markets.”

To read the entire article, go HERE.

[SOURCE: Inman News]


2. The Economy May Be Turning a Corner

Here’s hoping, at least, that the worst is over!

That’s the gist of a recent article published by RISMedia (“Upbeat Economic Indicators Give Americans Hope That Worst May be Over”) that highlights a number of different factors, several of which show signs of recovery:

  • New-home sales in February jumped 4.7% to an annual pace of 337,000 from a record low in January. February marked the first increase in sales since the summer.
  • New orders for computers, machinery, and other durable goods climbed an unexpectedly strong 3.4% in February as well.
  • The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index has gained 20% since March 9 – when it closed at a level last seen more than a decade before and The Dow Jones industrial average has risen 18.4% in the same amount of time.

Optimism, nevertheless, is far from unanimous!

To read more, go HERE.

[SOURCE: RISMedia]


3. HOT LINE: Being Paid at Closing?

QUESTION: If we have developed a system for being sure that company splits, etc., are deducted appropriately, is there a TREC issue with the commission check being paid directly to the associate at closing by the title company or closing attorney — as long as the managing broker authorizes it — instead of being paid afterward through the company? We know there are other firms doing this, but we do not want to make assumptions as to compliance.

ANSWER: Although some may be doing this, the Tennessee Real Estate Commission will NOT permit an agent to receive their commission directly at the closing table. This used to be the case, but it is no longer permitted. Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. 62-13-312(b)(11), an agent can be penalized by TREC for “Accepting a commission or any valuable consideration by an affiliate broker for the performance of any acts specified in this chapter, from any person, except the licensed real estate broker with whom the licensee is affiliated.”

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


4. HOT LINE: Magnetic Car Signs?

QUESTION: An agent of mine heard in a class last week that it is illegal for a REALTOR to have a magnet sign on their vehicle unless they have a commercial license plate (or the new REALTOR plate)!  It is our understanding the police are currently giving warnings, but will be writing citations beginning April 1, 2009. Is this true?

ANSWER: YES. Placing these magnetic signs on your vehicle does in fact convert the vehicle into a commercial vehicle which would require commercial tags. Also, it IS our understanding that the police in some counties will soon be writing tickets for violation of this law!

HOWEVER, you can also sign up for one of the attractive REALTOR license plates tags (“Celebrating Homeownership”), and – if we secure the necessary 1000 purchasers – you may, with this plate, have a magnetic sign on your vehicle and still be in compliance with the law, even without commercial tags. Go HERE to sign up for an attractive REALTOR license plate!

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


5. HOT LINE: Giving TAR Contracts to Others?

QUESTION: My dad is a builder, and he is purchasing a lot owned by another builder. No agents are involved. Can I print off TAR forms for him to use as a standard land contract?

ANSWER: NO. The TAR forms — including the TAR Offer to Purchase and other forms — are copyrighted and may ONLY be used by members of TAR. Individuals who are selling or buying property without the assistance of a member of TAR are NOT permitted to use any part of the TAR form. If they would like to work with you either as an agent or a facilitator, you may then use the TAR forms in the transaction.

Although some REALTORS have given these forms to consumers for their own use (without a REALTOR), both they and the consumers in question are liable for infractions of (federal) copyright statutes!

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


6. WORKING SMARTER: The Hipster PDA

Some time ago, Merlin Mann – the productivity guru who is speaking at the TAR Convention this coming September – published an interesting blog item. The post was titled, “Introducing the Hipster PDA”, and it is WELL worth reading!

Merlin’s approach to keeping up with all of those notes, tasks, projects, clients, etc., that we’re all constantly juggling while we’re “on the move”, is incredibly simple and NON-TECHNOLOGY-DEPENDENT. It doesn’t even need batteries!

You total cost to implement this system can be UNDER $5. How simple is that!

The Hipster PDA – don’t laugh – is simply a stack of index cards held together with a single binder clip! To read how he uses his, go HERE.

P.S. To keep our “product endorsements” honest, your Editor has been using a Hipster PDA for a while and can attest to its effectiveness!

[SOURCE: 43folders.com]


7. Upcoming Events & Courses

The month of April features two good opportunities to get your personal “systems” working again (your prospecting & follow-up systems, use of the Internet, communications tools, etc.): GRI 5, Systems for Success, offered in both distance-learning and classroom formats! Even if you’re not working toward the GRI designation, this is a good course to help you work smarter in a tough economy!

April 7-8: GRI 5 – Systems for Success (Cool Springs), 16 hours CE. For more information, go HERE.

April 16: E-Class GRI 5 – Systems for Success (a 5-week distance-learning course) begins – 16 hours CE. For more information, go HERE.

April 22-23: Leadership TAR Retreat #1 – Authentic Leadership, held at Montgomery Bell State Park. This retreat is full, and registrations are closed for this one.

Watch each week’s TAR DIGEST for schedule changes and additions!


8. 30-Year Rates Hit Record Low!

With the Federal Reserve planning to purchase another $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities and up to $300 million in Treasuries, Freddie Mac reports a drop in long-term mortgage rates. The average interest on a 30-year loan fell to a 38-YEAR LOW OF 4.85 PERCENT during the week ended March 26 from 4.98 percent the prior week!

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, noted: “Rates for 30-Yr FRMs peaked last year at 6.63 percent on July 24th. With this week’s 30-Yr FRM, the interest rate difference is almost 2 percentage points, which amounts to a savings of about $225 in monthly mortgage payments for a $200,000 loan.”

“And potential homebuyers are taking notice of these historically low mortgage rates. Both new and existing home sales rose 5 percent in February. First-time homebuyers accounted for half of all existing home sales, according to the National Association of REALTORS. In addition, mortgage applications for home purchases consecutively rose over the first three weeks in March, based on figures published by the Mortgage Bankers Association.”

[SOURCE: Freddie Mac]


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