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


CONTENTS
1. Homeownership Rate Drops
2. New Monthly RESPA Update
3. Listings on Facebook? Be Careful…
4. HOT LINE: Buyers Want the Same Property?
5. HOT LINE: New Agent at the Last Minute?
6. Homeownership Options for Tennessee’s Workforce
7. GRI and Other Courses
8. Rates Again Hit Record Low!

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

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1. Homeownership Rate Drops

After several years of record high homeownership rates in the U.S. (during the housing boom), current trends are now moving in the opposite direction according to a recent USA Today article:

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
Millions of houses on the verge of foreclosure threaten to send homeownership to its lowest level in 50 years, according to new industry estimates.

Fresh projections say the rate could plummet to about 62% as early as 2012 and almost certainly by the end of the decade. Homeownership rates haven’t been that low since they hit 61.9% in 1960.

The share of households that own their homes has been sliding since the housing bubble burst in 2006. The rate fell again in the second quarter of this year to 66.9% — the lowest since 1999 — from a peak of 69.4% in 2004, the Census Bureau says.
*** END QUOTE ***

To read the full article, CLICK HERE.

[SOURCE: USA Today]


2. New Monthly RESPA Update

HUD is now publishing a free monthly update on RESPA – “RESPA Roundup” – to cover the latest news about rules, enforcement, and frequently asked questions!

To access the latest (July, 2010) edition of the newsletter, go to HUD’s RESPA page by CLICKING HERE.

Bookmark the page for future reference while you’re there!

[SOURCES: REAL Trends; HUD]


3. Listings on Facebook? Be Careful…

Minnesota attorney Brian Larson says real estate agents and brokers who post another broker’s listings on Facebook or other social media sites could be violating state real estate licensing laws, MLS rules, and the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics. Web sites must belong to brokers who are members of the MLS to comply with IDX rules, which disqualifies Facebook; and Facebook also cannot meet Virtual Office Website rules, which require a broker-consumer relationship.

Brokers should post links that direct people to an IDX site and allow only Facebook “Friends” who are clients to view these posts, advises Larson, as brokers could claim the information is being shared as part of a brokerage relationship. However, Larson says such posts still could been deemed advertisements in some states.

[SOURCES: Inman News; Information, Inc.]


4. HOT LINE: Buyers Want the Same Property?

QUESTION: I represent a buyer and have presented an offer on a property for them. We now have a binding contract. I currently have other buyers interested in the same property. What can I do in this situation?

ANSWER: There are several different ways of handling this situation.  The safest strategy is to recommend that the second buyer work with another agent. This will prevent any appearance of impropriety.  Obviously, you will also need to fully disclose to everyone that this has occurred. Then, if your company practices designated agency, allow someone else in the office to work with buyer #2.

If you do not have a buyer’s representation agreement with buyer #2, then you must fully disclose to all parties that there is an accepted offer with someone whom you represent. Then we would recommend that this second buyer work with another agent.

[SOURCE: TAR Legal and Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]


5. HOT LINE: New Agent at the Last Minute?

QUESTION: I represent a seller on a listing. A buyer, with whom I am familiar and who knew I had the property listed, called the seller and made an oral offer. I spoke with the buyer and told him to contact me when he was ready and we would prepare a written offer. The buyer opted not to go through me, but to contact his own personal attorney. When the parties were looking over the HUD-1, the buyer announced that he had a buyer’s agent. When I contacted the buyer’s agent, I requested a copy of the buyer’s representation agreement, which the agent refused to produce. I spoke with the agent’s broker and she also refused to provide a copy of the buyer’s rep agreement. I told the broker that I needed some kind of proof that they were involved prior to my contact with the buyer. Does the broker have to produce a copy of the buyer’s rep agreement to me? Can an agent jump into a transaction at closing?

ANSWER: Any agency agreement (whether a buyer’s representation agreement or a listing agreement) contains confidential information between the client and the firm. This cannot be released without the permission of the client. Therefore, the other agent did NOT have to provide you with a copy of the buyer’s agency agreement.

An unrepresented buyer is able to enlist a buyer’s agent at any stage of the transaction. However, this does not necessarily mean that this agent would be entitled to a cooperative commission at the closing of the deal. Whether the agent is entitled to a commission depends upon whether that agent is the procuring cause of the transaction. We cannot determine who is the procuring cause of a transaction as that is a decision to be made by the local association.

In an arbitration proceeding, procuring cause is determined by the local association after the property is closed, with any decision based on a number of different factors. You can request the local board to have a hearing once the closing has occurred.

[SOURCE: TAR Legal and Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]


6. Homeownership Options for Tennessee’s Workforce

This past year, TAR and TREEF received a grant from a national foundation. Among other things, the grant funded the development of a new 6-hour, CE-accredited course titled “Homeownership Options for Tennessee’s Workforce.”

The course is one that every REALTOR could benefit from! It’s designed to equip you with the skills and resources to help more buyers achieve the dream of homeownership. By enhancing communication skills and expanding your knowledge of available options for these consumers, you will be better prepared to help them locate suitable properties, navigate the homebuying process and prepare for the costs and rewards of homeownership.

To bring this course to as many members as possible, TREEF is offering a $300 credit to every local association in Tennessee for their first offering of this course to their members (to help the association offset the cost of the instructor), and $150 credit for any subsequent offering during the next 12 months!


7. GRI and Other Courses

Aug. 4: 2009-2010 Core CE Course (4 hrs. CE) – Clarksville. For more information or to register go to: http://armscar.realtracs.com/memberaccess/

Aug. 5 – Sept. 8: E-Class GRI 2, Smart Marketing – Your Listings & Your Services (16 hrs. CE) – a distance learning course. For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.

Aug. 6: 2009-2010 Core CE Course (4 hrs. CE) – Chattanooga. For more information or to register, call 423-698-8001.

Aug. 11-12: Leadership TAR Retreat – Industry Issues, Challenges, and Vision – Montgomery Bell State Park. For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.

Aug. 16-17: GRI 3, Financing the Successful Transaction (16 hrs. CE) – Knoxville. For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.

Aug. 18-19: GRI 5, Systems for Success (16 hrs. CE) – Murfreesboro. For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.

Aug. 18: Homeownership Options for Tennessee’s Workforce (6 hrs. CE) – Clarksville. For more information or to register go to: http://armscar.realtracs.com/memberaccess/

CLICK HERE for the complete 2010 schedule of Classroom and E-Class GRI Courses!

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


8. Rates Again Hit Record Low!

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to a new low of 4.54 percent this past week from 4.56 percent the prior week and an average of 5.25 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed loan rate also hit a record low of 4 percent, down from 4.03 percent a week earlier and 4.69 percent last year. The five-year adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.76 percent, compared to 3.79 percent the previous week and 4.75 percent a year earlier; and one-year ARMs averaged 3.64 percent, down from 3.7 percent and 4.80 percent, respectively.

[SOURCES: Wall Street Journal; Information, Inc.]


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