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

1. Agency Issues Top Legal Concerns Nationally!
2. Fannie Mae Reconfirms Short Sale Commission Policy
3. TAR Is On Twitter!
4. HOT LINE: Messing with the Escrow Account?
5. HOT LINE: No Copy of the HUD-1?
6. Upcoming Courses & Events!
7. Rates Ease A Little!

1. Agency Issues Top Legal Concerns Nationally!

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) has just released its 2009 NAR Legal Scan, a survey of the current legal environment faced by real estate professionals. NAR undertakes this comprehensive research project every two years. It analyzes current legal liability issues and identifies emerging legal and risk issues. The Scan is based on surveys of key people in the real-estate industry, as well as data obtained from case law and statutory research.

Agency issues are the top area of concern for real estate professionals, along with RESPA and Property Condition Disclosure. These issues, along with As-Is Clauses and Commission Disputes, seem to be particularly important in the current down market, where many licensees may be unsure of how to handle the unique challenges being presented. Other issues emerging from the current economy include wage-and-hour claims and potential liability for “mortgage rescue” scams.

To download the entire 2009 NAR Legal Scan (Warning: it’s a large file!), click HERE.

Next week’s 7-2-09 edition of the TAR DIGEST will be a special edition focused exclusively on Tennessee Agency Law! Look for it!

[SOURCE: NAR’s Legal Affairs Department]

2. Fannie Mae Reconfirms Short Sale Commission Policy

In discussions between NAR and Fannie Mae, Fannie Mae has reconfirmed its short sale commission policy and established a process for REALTORS to follow if issues arise.

On February 24, 2009, Fannie Mae sent Announcement 09-03 to its servicers instructing them not to negotiate commissions on short sales below the amount negotiated by the listing agent, unless the commission exceeds 6 percent. The Announcement reminded servicers that third party approvals (i.e., private mortgage insurers) may be required and can affect commissions.

In response to concerns raised by NAR that some servicers of Fannie Mae loans are unaware of this policy or believe it is not binding, Fannie Mae has established a process for NAR members when short sale commission issues arise.

To download a PDF of the contact information and steps to take if you want to appeal an action taken by a lender, click HERE.

[SOURCES: NAR; Fannie Mae]

3. TAR Is On Twitter!

This past week, someone remarked that the next Nobel Peace Prize should go to whoever invented Twitter … because Twitter, Facebook, and other social media have been the only means by which the Iranian people could truly communicate with one another and with the outside world during the turmoil in Iran!

Twitter is a free Internet service by which you can send and receive SHORT (140 characters or less!) updates to your Twitter page from those you choose to “follow”! [You can also opt to receive updates on your phone, etc. You choose how much — and by which means — you want to receive and/or send updates.]

TAR is now on twitter! To follow TAR — and receive a brief update whenever there is an announcement — go to:

If you already have a Twitter account, simply login and click to follow TNAOR. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you can sign up for free and then click to follow!  It’s an easy — unobtrusive — way to get quick, short updates from TAR staff.

4. HOT LINE: Messing with the Escrow Account?

QUESTION: I am the managing broker at a company in which I have an ownership interest. The other owner of the company is messing with the funds in the trust account. What degree of responsibility do I have with regard to this matter? What should I do?

ANSWER: Unfortunately, since you are the principal broker, in TREC’s view you are ultimately responsible. Therefore, it may be ultimately up to you to replace any missing funds, at least in the short run. We recommend an immediate audit of the accounts to determine if any money is gone and, if so, where it went, when it went and on whose instructions. You can request copies of all statements and checks from the bank.

If you can determine who authorized any missing funds to be removed, you should be able to go after them to return them. We would recommend talking to your lawyer about your legal options at this point.

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

5. HOT LINE: No Copy of the HUD-1?

QUESTION: A title company has refused to release a copy of the HUD-1 to the agents for the buyer or seller. Under Tennessee law, is a real estate agent required to retain a copy of the HUD-1 in their files? This title company will not release a sealed document in case of audit either. How do I handle this situation?

ANSWER: You indicated that this sale did not involve a federally regulated mortgage. Therefore, RESPA will not apply. Your main concern is to make sure that your files are as complete as possible for your audit. If you cannot get a copy from your client and the title company will not give you one either, we would recommend that you document this in your file. We would recommend sending a letter back to the title company which confirms their refusal to provide a copy and then send it to them. Keep a copy of a return receipt card or fax confirmation sheet in your file to demonstrate that they received it. This should provide any auditor with evidence that you attempted to get the HUD-1, but were unable to do so.

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

6. Upcoming TAR Courses & Events!

July 27: TAR Forms 101 (Nashville, TAR Office), 4 hours CE. For more information, go HERE.

July 27: TransactionDesk Basic Course (Nashville, TAR Office), 3 hours CE. For more information, go HERE.

A Special Event for Educators & Instructors: On July 28-29, TREEF will host its Educators Conference 2009, an annual event with sessions and workshops for instructors and association staff. For more information, go HERE.

Instructor-Training: On August 27-28. we will hold another offering of our popular two-day instructor-training workshop, “The Learning-Centered Instructor”, at the TAR Office in Nashville, accredited for 16 hours of CE. For more information, go HERE.

TAR’s 2009 Annual Convention! From September 15th – 19th, TAR will be hosting the 2009 TAR Annual Convention in Clear Point, Alabama, at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club, & Spa. National speakers include real estate guru Stefan Swanepoel, Karel Murray, Internet-savvy Randy Eagar, and productivity wizard Merlin Mann! For more information about the Convention program or our hotel in Point Clear, go HERE.

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

7. Rates Ease A Little!

Coming down from a seven-month high of 5.59 percent a week ago, rates on 30-year fixed home loans settled at 5.38 percent last week. Freddie Mac reports that interest on 15-year fixed mortgages was lower as well, slipping to 4.89 percent from 5.06 percent over the same period. An upward trend in borrowing costs over the past three weeks was linked to rising yields on long-term government debt, sparked by investor concerns over inflation. According to Freddie Mac, however, new data suggest that inflation is under control.

[SOURCES: Freddie Mac; Information, Inc.]


After July 4, we will be changing email distribution of the TAR DIGEST. The current email distribution list for the TAR DIGEST will be discontinued at that time!

Starting with the 7-14-09 issue, the TAR DIGEST will be emailed to ALL TAR members who have a valid email address in their NRDS records (that the local associations of REALTORS maintain). To continue receiving the DIGEST in July and beyond, please ensure that your local association of REALTORS has your current and correct email address.

For non-members (e.g., office managers) who have been receiving the TAR DIGEST, there will be a mechanism set up so that you may continue to receive it.

The TAR DIGEST will still be posted on the website, for easy searchable access to past editions, and access to a printer-friendly current edition.

TAR’s Home Page:

TO SUBSCRIBE to the TAR DIGEST: Simply go to the TAR DIGEST website at with your web browser, and look down the left-hand column of that page for “Get News By E-Mail”. Click on that and follow the instructions.

After entering your email address, you will receive an email from the system () with a link that you MUST click on, to activate your subscription. Thanks!