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


CONTENTS
1. Keeping Sellers Happy
2. Dark Clouds Loom for Commercial Real Estate
3. 2010 GRI Schedule Is Online
4. HOT LINE: $50 for Referrals?
5. HOT LINE: Whose Attorney at Closing?
6. Video Use Growing in Real Estate
7. Upcoming Courses & Events!
8. Rates at Lowest Level in Five Weeks

To ask a TAR Legal & Ethics Hot Line question, go HERE.

For other questions about this newsletter, please use the “CONTACT” form HERE.


1. Keeping Sellers Happy

“Tis the season to be jolly” …but many sellers are far from jolly in the current market! Even the approaching holidays may not put smiles on their faces if their properties won’t sell.

Nevertheless, Realty Times columnist Jennifer Allan offers “Sixteen Ways to Keep Your Seller Happy” in a recent article.  These suggestions are mostly common-sense stuff, but they’re still useful as a checklist of options for those hard-to-please sellers!

To read the whole article, go to:
http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20091112_sellercontent.htm

[SOURCE: Realty Times]


2. Dark Clouds Loom for Commercial Real Estate

At this past week’s NAR Convention in San Diego, Chief Economist Lawrence Yun painted a less-than-rosy picture of the commercial real estate market over the next few years:

“Who is buying? The answer is no one,” he explained. “The level of transactions is way down. We’re looking at an almost 90 percent decline from peak to current levels.”

To read a complete report on his forecast, go HERE.

[SOURCE: REALTOR Magazine Online]


3. 2010 GRI Schedule Is Online

The complete 2010 schedule of GRI courses — both Classroom courses and E-Class (distance-learning) courses — is now online HERE.

The 2010 schedule features more course locations across the state than we’ve had for many years!  Courses do not have to be taken in any order, and Classroom and E-Class courses are interchangeable …you can fulfill part of your requirements in the Classroom and part of them in E-Classes, if you wish. To learn how E-Classes work, go HERE.

NOTE: To see the dates for most of the 2010 TAR meetings (other than education courses), you can now go to the TAR Calendar at:
http://tnrealtors.com/calendar/index.php


4. HOT LINE: $50 for Referrals?

QUESTION: A local home inspector is offering to pay REALTORS $50 for any referrals. The REALTOR isn’t being asked to perform any services. Does this violate RESPA?

ANSWER: Under RESPA, “No person shall give and no person shall accept any fee, kickback, or thing of value pursuant to any agreement or understanding, oral or otherwise, that business incident to or a part of a real estate settlement service involving a federally related mortgage loan shall be referred to any person.” 12 USC 2607(a).

A real estate settlement service defined as:

“…any service provided in connection with a real estate settlement including, but not limited to, the following: title searches, title examinations, the provision of title certificates, title insurance, services rendered by an attorney, the preparation of documents, property surveys, the rendering of credit reports or appraisals, pest and fungus inspections, services rendered by a real estate agent or broker, the origination of a federally related mortgage loan (including, but not limited to, the taking of loan applications, loan processing, and the underwriting and funding of loans), and the handling of the processing, and closing or settlement.”

Therefore, in our opinion, a home inspector would likely be viewed as a real estate settlement service since pest inspections and surveys are classified in that manner. We would NOT recommend accepting anything for any referrals to home inspectors.

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


5. HOT LINE: Whose Attorney at Closing?

QUESTION: I am a real estate agent representing my client as the designated agent for the buyer. The seller’s closing attorney contacted my buyer by letter and stated in that letter that the buyers should have their real estate agent use the seller’s closing attorney to close the property and stated that, if the buyers did indeed use the seller’s closing attorney, their office would reduce the closing fees. What should I do?

ANSWER: The decision as to who will represent the parties at closing is really up to each individual party. Neither party can force the other to use a particular attorney and/or title company. The buyers should understand that if they use this attorney, they may not have someone there representing their interests. It would be important for the buyers to know exactly whom the closing attorney is representing. [It may be neither the seller nor the buyer, but the lender.] There could be a conflict of interest in case a problem arose between the buyer and seller and/or lender.

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


6. Video Use Growing in Real Estate

According to Wellcomehost’s first annual report on online video use in real estate marketing, video use surged 95 percent during the first six months of the year from the same period in 2008.

Both small and large realty firms are embracing video, with 30 percent of those polled using the technology to market listings. The report shows that 26 percent of respondents use video to highlight the surrounding community, 25 percent to introduce themselves to prospective clients, and 19 percent to showcase their knowledge of the local market. About 46 percent of those polled said lack of knowledge was the biggest challenge when it comes to real estate agents employing video, while 33 percent said cost was a big issue.

Additionally, when asked what consumers value most when searching for real estate information, 48 percent said photos and 41 percent said videos. Only 9 percent said virtual tours and slideshows were highly valued by consumers.

For more information, go HERE.

[SOURCES: Inman News; Information, Inc.]


7. Upcoming Courses & Events!

Local Assn President/President-elect Leadership Session — Dec. 9 (TAR Office, Nashville). [This session is for local association Presidents and Presidents-elect only.]

Joint Governmental Affairs/RPAC Training Workshop — Dec. 10 (TAR Office, Nashville). [This session is for local association Governmental Affairs and RPAC chairs and vice-chairs, local AEs and Governmental Affairs Directors, and TAR RPAC and Governmental Affairs Committee members.]

2010 Schedule of Classroom and E-Class GRI Courses is now online HERE.

How do E-Classes work? These are NOT your typical online courses! To understand how they work, go HERE.

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


8. Rates at Lowest Level in Five Weeks

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 4.91 percent for the week ended Nov. 12, down from an average of 4.98 percent a week earlier, and has now been below 5 percent for five of the last seven weeks, reports Freddie Mac. Also, 15-year fixed loans fell to 4.36 percent from 4.40 percent; five-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages declined to 4.29 percent from 4.35 percent; and one-year ARMs slipped to 4.46 percent from 4.47 percent.

[SOURCES: Freddie Mac; Information, Inc.]


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