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

1. Nationwide Open House Resources Posted!
2. REALTOR License Plate Update
3. HUD Attorney Clarifies Add-on Fees
4. HOT LINE: Independent Contractor’s Agreement?
5. HOT LINE: Minimal Info on Signs?
6. Instructor Workshop Rescheduled
7. Upcoming Courses & Events
8. Rates Slightly Higher

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

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

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1. Nationwide Open House Resources Posted!

TN Open House

To help you join in the Nationwide Open House Weekend (April 10-11), local associations, firms, and members can now find a variety of resources online by CLICKING HERE.

The Nationwide Open House Weekend comes just before the April 30, 2010, deadline for the federal homebuyer tax credit. Homes need to be under contract by April 30, 2010, and closed by June 30, 2010, to take advantage of up to $8,000 in tax credits.

To help you promote your own Open Houses on this special weekend, we’ve posted logo artwork, banners for your websites, and sample press releases for both brokers and local associations to use!

2. REALTOR License Plate Update

The specialty REALTOR License Plates (“Celebrate Homeownership!”) are now available through your local County Clerk’s Office, where you normally pick up or renew your license tags! Most TAR members who ordered these tags have received a letter advising you that they are now available.  If you have NOT received such a letter, you may still contact your County Clerk’s office to verify that your tags are now in.

PLEASE NOTE: The state has advised us that anyone wanting a REALTOR License plate MUST have proof that they are a REALTOR Member, such as the NAR membership card. If you cannot locate your NAR membership card, you may be able to print out a page from NAR’s NRDS Membership system proving your active membership status with NAR.

QUESTIONS? Please contact: Debbie Minton at the TN Dept. of Revenue, 615-532-1135 or

3. HUD Attorney Clarifies Add-on Fees

According to a recent news item in REALTOR Magazine Online, HUD General Counsel Helen R. Kanovsky has released some guidance on the charging of “add-on fees” by firms – a subject of some controversy since they were ruled in violation of federal law by a U. S. District Court in a case last year:

Commissions may be quoted “using a flat fee, a percentage of the sales price, or a combination” — all listed on the revised HUD-1 sheet. But Kanovsky said that if the total charges “exceed the amount of the commission for listing and selling the home that is reflected in the real estate broker’s or agent’s listing agreement,” then HUD has the right “to determine whether additional services were provided” to justify the add-on.

If few or no services appear to have been performed, HUD can consider these charges a violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. Such a violation is subject to significant penalties.
*** END QUOTE ***

To read the entire news item, go HERE.

To download the actual HUD letter by Ms. Kanovsky, go HERE.

[SOURCES: REALTOR Magazine Online: Washington Post Writers Group; Kenneth Harney]

4. HOT LINE: Independent Contractor’s Agreement?

QUESTION: Not sure this is the correct place to inquire, but I was wondering if TAR has a sample “Independent Contractor Agreement”?

ANSWER: Yes, TAR provides an Independent Contractor’s Agreement as form F40. If this form does not suit your needs, we would recommend having an attorney help you draft one that will work for your circumstances.

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

5. HOT LINE: Minimal Info on Signs?

QUESTION: I have noticed new pointer signs being used in our area by REALTORS that are 24″ x 18″ with only the following information: HOUSE FOR SALE xxx-xxx-xxxx. The signs have only a cell number on them. There is no other information identifying the agent, the agent’s firm, etc. Does this comply with the rules of the Real Estate Commission? Also, are pointer signs with only this information allowed?

ANSWER: At a minimum, all advertising must contain the firm name AND firm telephone number. [See TREC Rule TREC Rule 1260-2-.12]

It is likely that TREC would consider these “pointer signs” to be an advertisement (especially since they contain the agent’s cell number). In addition, TREC could view this as misleading since it would lead someone to believe that this is an owner’s sign since there is no indication that it is associated with a real estate agent or firm. As a result, we would recommend that at least the firm name and telephone number be included on any such pointer sign.

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

6. Instructor Workshop Rescheduled

The Workshop for Agency Instructors (for any instructors who teach agency courses or any courses with significant agency-related content) – originally scheduled for March 24 – had to be postponed due to instructor illness. That Workshop has been rescheduled for Wednesday, April 21, at the TAR Office in Nashville.  This Workshop will satisfy the newly-legislated TREC requirement for instructors who teach agency. For more information or to register, go HERE.

7. Upcoming Courses & Events

April 7-8: GRI 1, Professionalism in Real Estate (16 hrs. CE) – Cool Springs, Franklin.

April 8 – May 12: E-Class GRI 5, Systems for Success (16 hrs. CE).

April 10-11: REALTOR Nationwide Open House Weekend! The Tennessee Association of REALTORS joins with state and local associations around the country to promote the Nationwide Open House Weekend, April 10-11. Encourage your buyers to visit and your sellers to participate!

April 20: TransactionDesk Basic Course (3 hrs. CE) – TAR Office, Nashville.

April 20: Forms 101 Course (4 hrs. CE) – TAR Office, Nashville.

April 20: GRI 6, Sticky Situations (16 hrs. CE) – Northeast TN.

April 21: Workshop for Agency Instructors (4 hrs. CE) – TAR Office, Nashville.

April 21: 2009-2010 Core CE Course (4 hrs. CE) – Paris, TN. For more information, contact the Tennessee Valley Assn. of REALTORS at 731-336-7844.

April 22: GRI 4, From Offer to Contract to Closing (16 hrs. CE) – Murfreesboro.

April 29 – June 2: E-Class GRI 6, Sticky Situations (16 hrs. CE).

April – August: Leadership TAR 2010! Our first retreat is April 28-29!

The complete 2010 schedule of Classroom and E-Class GRI Courses is online!

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

8. Rates Slightly Higher

Freddie Mac reported slightly higher mortgage rates last week, with the average interest on a 30-year fixed loan topping off at 4.99 percent from the previous week’s 4.96 percent and from 4.85 percent a year ago. Rates on 15-year fixed loans, meanwhile, bumped up to 4.34 percent from 4.33 percent a week earlier but remained down from 4.58 percent a year ago. Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.14 percent, climbing from 4.09 percent a week earlier but declining from 4.98 percent a year earlier. One-year ARMs were 4.2 percent versus 4.12 percent and 4.85 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, existing-home sales declined slightly in February, with modest gains in the Northeast and Midwest offset by softer sales in the South and West, according to the National Association of REALTORS.

[SOURCES: Information, Inc.; Freddie Mac; NAR]

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