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

1. Operation Stolen Dreams
2. NAR Reports REALTOR Sentiment
3. Two New Resources for TAR Members!
4. HOT LINE: Who Is Considered the Seller?
5. HOT LINE: Can Seller Give Cash Back?
6. TAR Communications Survey Results!
7. GRI and Other Courses
8. Rates Remain VERY Low

To ask a TAR Legal and Ethics Hot Line question, CLICK HERE.

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

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1. Operation Stolen Dreams

It is a sad commentary on human nature that a recession and tough economic times will attract even MORE unscrupulous individuals trying to take advantage of those in trouble!

Mortgage fraud has been on the rise throughout this recession, with several schemes targeted at properties and sellers involved in either short sales or foreclosure. That’s the reason for the FBI’s new crackdown on mortgage fraud, Operation Stolen Dreams:

Launched on March 1, 2010, the multi-agency initiative has led to a total of 485 arrests. More than 330 convictions have been obtained, and nearly $11 million has been recovered. Losses from a variety of fraud schemes are estimated to exceed $2 billion.

Operation Stolen Dreams is the government’s largest mortgage fraud take-down to date. But FBI Director Robert S. Mueller cautioned that there is still much work to be done. The Bureau is currently pursuing more than 3,000 mortgage fraud cases, he said, which is almost double the number from the last fiscal year.
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To read the full story – including several links that explain various fraudulent schemesCLICK HERE.


2. NAR Reports REALTOR Sentiment

NAR just released their Surveys of REALTOR Sentiment for each region of the country. Tennessee is in Region 4 (with Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina), represented this year at NAR by Tennessee’s Jewell McKinney, Region 4 Vice President.

The Survey of REALTOR Sentiment compiles both REALTOR comments from around the region, as well as survey data measuring member confidence in the market, through May of 2010.

The latest report indicates cautious optimism, as compared with the same period a year earlier. 53% of respondents to the NAR survey reported participation in a real estate purchase or sale during the previous month, with 44% of the purchasers in those transactions being first-time buyers.

To download and read your own copy of the complete report (in PDF format), go to:


3. Two New Resources for TAR Members!

We are pleased to announce two new online “resource centers” for TAR members – one for instructors and company trainers, and a second site for REALTOR Association and company leaders. Both websites are sponsored by TREEF. They offer a wealth of information and recommendations, and both sites will be updated periodically with new suggestions and resources:

Instructor Resources …a resource center for learning-centered instructors!

Resources for REALTOR Association Leaders

If you ever lose the bookmarks to either of the above sites, just check back in the Education section of the TAR website at:

4. HOT LINE: Who Is Considered the Seller?

QUESTION: I submitted an offer on a short sale. In the case of a short sale who is considered the seller? It appears that the selling agent that I submitted the offer to did not submit the offer to the bank or seller. What’s the remedy if an agent does not present an offer?

ANSWER: The listing agreement is with the seller, not the bank in a short sale situation. The seller still owns the property until the bank retakes it in a foreclosure. Therefore, any offer that is received must be presented to the seller by the listing agent, unless the seller has given the listing agent specific written instructions to the contrary. The lender must approve the transaction, but the agent’s client is the seller.

If you feel that the seller’s agent violated any of legal and ethical requirements to present all offers to their client (unless instructed not to do so), then you can file a complaint with TREC for violations of the Broker’s Act and TREC Rules, or with the local association for violations of the Code of Ethics if the agent is a REALTOR. If the buyer feels that he has been wronged, then he may wish to speak with his own legal counsel concerning his individual legal rights.

[SOURCE: TAR Legal and Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]

5. HOT LINE: Can Seller Give Cash Back?

QUESTION: Is it permissible for a seller to offer a buyer cash back at closing? I have seen this advertised recently and was under the impression that seller concessions had to be in the form of credits toward buyer closing costs and had to be disclosed on the HUD statement. I can’t find the reference, but isn’t it precluded because of mortgage fraud implications?

ANSWER: This will all depend upon what the lender will allow. We would strongly recommend contacting the lender to determine whether they will permit this. Most often, the lender will not permit the seller to give cash back to the buyer at closing. They are more likely to permit a check to be issued directly to a third party.

PLEASE NOTE that you will need verification (always in writing for your protection) from the lender and NOT the mortgage broker! They are two very different entities! You need verification from the entity that is actually funding the loan.  This will also have to appear on the HUD-1.

[SOURCE: TAR Legal and Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]

6. TAR Communications Survey Results!

Last week, we invited readers to complete a five-question survey on TAR Communications.  THANK YOU to all who took the time to respond! Following is a summary of what you told us:

Changes Members would like to see in this newsletter (the TAR DIGEST):

  • 37.0% – No changes at all
  • 28.0% – Short surveys and survey results
  • 28.0% – Problem-solving contests for readers
  • 25.2% – Bi-monthly instead of a weekly newsletter
  • 22.5% – Occasional interviews with prominent TN brokers
  • 14.4% – Shorter articles with links

Members are split EXACTLY down the middle on the value of social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.), with 50.0% feeling that social media are somewhat or extremely valuable, and 50.0% either unsure or negative on their value!

Nevertheless, 72.8% consider themselves somewhat or extremely knowledgeable about social media.

As to which social media members actually use, Facebook is the clear favorite, with 56.2% of members using it versus the next most popular choice, Linked-In (used by 30.3% of members). All other choices (Twitter, ActiveRain, blogs, etc.) are used by MUCH smaller percentages of members. 36.7% of members don’t use any social media.

How do members want to receive communications from TAR? 90.2% of members prefer email only.

7. GRI and Other Courses

June 28: TransactionDesk Basic Course (3 hrs. CE) – Union City. For more information contact Jennifer Hooks with the Reelfoot Regional Association of REALTORS at:

A new series of E-Class GRI courses begins in July, and more classroom GRI courses are scheduled in 2010, beginning in August. The complete 2010 schedule of Classroom and E-Class GRI Courses is online and accessible by CLICKING HERE.

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

8. Rates Remain VERY Low

Last week, reported very favorable rates, with the 30-year fixed remaining unchanged from the previous week’s record low.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remained 4.88 percent last week, according to the national survey of large lenders. The mortgages in this week’s survey had an average total of 0.48 discount and origination points. One year ago, the mortgage index was 5.76 percent; four weeks ago, it was 4.96 percent.

In the nearly 25-year history of Bankrate’s weekly rate survey, the 30-year fixed has fallen below 5 percent just five times. And all five times were the last five weeks.

Meanwhile, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that three-fourths of recent financing applications were from homeowners who wanted to refinance.

[SOURCES:; Mortgage Bankers Association]

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