The 5-24-11 Newsletter of the Tennessee Association of REALTORS
Editor: Pug Scoville

1. Predictably, Agent Income Has Dropped
2. Referrals Remain Top Marketing Objective
3. Tennessee Ranks 6th in Consumer Distress
4. TECH TIP: Are You Ready for Mobile Visitors?
5. HOT LINE: Who Owns the Buyer’s Rep Agreement?
6. Upcoming GRI and Other Courses
7. Rates At Low Point For 2011
8. Useful Web Links

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

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

1. Predictably, Agent Income Has Dropped

The National Association of REALTORS says the weak housing market is responsible for a 34.7 percent slide in median income for real estate professionals to $34,100 last year from $52,200 in 2002.

Members licensed as brokers earned a median of $48,700 in 2010, while sales agents earned $24,900. NAR members in the business for two years or less earned a median of $8,900, while those in the business for 16 years or more earned $47,100. Sixteen percent earned a six-figure income, reflecting the entrepreneurial aspect of REALTOR businesses.

Agent income depends on number of transactions and sales prices, explains Paul Bishop, Vice President of Research at NAR. Home sales remain tepid today, despite an 8.3 percent increase to an annual rate of 5.14 million in the first quarter from the same period last year. Over the same span, the median price dropped 5 percent to $158,700. Agents say buyers are having problems obtaining mortgages due to credit scores and other requirements, and 93 percent believe that the availability of a “quality subprime mortgage alternative” would boost transaction volume by 32 percent on average.

Bishop says REALTOR income likely will not increase substantially in the near future, as a jump in transaction volume will not offset the impact of falling home prices. NAR membership has decreased as a result of the market downturn, plunging 21.3 percent from 2006 to 1.1 million last year.

To read more about the 2011 NAR Member Profile, CLICK HERE.

[SOURCES: NAR; Housing Wire; Information, Inc.]

2. Referrals Remain Top Marketing Objective

HomeGain, a website that connects real estate agents with home buyers and sellers, recently announced the results of its Real Estate Professionals Marketing Practices and Preferences survey, based on responses from over 700 real estate agents and brokers nationwide. Referrals ranked the number one marketing preference among real estate professionals for acquiring new clients, with a cumulative overall score of 8.7 out of a possible 10 for effectiveness. Referrals also ranked number one in the February 2010 HomeGain Real Estate Professionals Marketing Practices and Preferences Surveys.

Leads from brokers and events (including open houses) ranked second and third, respectively, as most effective marketing strategies, replacing featured listings and email campaigns as indicated in the February 2010 HomeGain survey. Postcards and mailers were bumped down from fourth in the February 2010 survey to sixth. Print ads fell from 10th in the February survey to 11th.

The most recent results show a substantial decline in agents’ marketing preferences for blogging (moving from fifth to thirteenth since February 2010), as well as a slight decrease in preference for social media.

[SOURCE: HomeGain]

3. Tennessee Ranks 6th in Consumer Distress

A lot of factors lead to financial stress in our lives, ranging from unemployment to our credit scores. And Tennesseans, it turns out, are among the most financially distressed in the country, according to a new study.

Atlanta-based CredAbility, a nonprofit credit-counseling group, ranked the states in five categories: employment, housing, credit, net worth and how families manage household budgets. States were ranked on a 100-point index, with any score below a 70 representing a state of financial distress.

Tennessee had the sixth lowest score, with a 64.19.

Nevada is the country’s most distressed state, with a score of 60.78, followed by Georgia (62.98), Michigan (63.17), Florida (63.55) and Arizona (64.08).

The national average was 68.15.
*** END QUOTE ***

To read more, CLICK HERE.

[SOURCE: Nashville Business Journal]

4. TECH TIP: Are You Ready for Mobile Visitors?

At the recent Midyear Conference of the National Association of REALTORS, several speakers noted the increased use of smart phones, iPads, and other mobile devices to access the web.  [It was nearly impossible to walk down a hall at the Conference without seeing at least half of the people walking around with their faces glued to their phones, checking email, etc.!]

Two questions were asked more than once: If someone accessed your personal website with a smart phone, what would they see? Is your website designed and ready for a good viewing experience by any mobile visitors?

Those are good questions for both companies and individual agents. Go ahead and try it! Pull out your own smart phone and access your own website….

5. HOT LINE: Who Owns the Buyer’s Rep Agreement?

QUESTION: An agent changes firms. The agent has a Buyer’s Representation Agreement with a buyer-client. The agent’s prior broker releases the buyer. Meanwhile, a listing agent picks up the buyer and writes up a new
contract wherein the listing agent now also represents the buyer.

When the prior broker released the buyer, does that also release the buyer from the prior agent? Are Buyer’s Rep Agreements considered to be the ownership of a firm? Is it ethical for the listing agent to pick up the buyer and write a new offer?

ANSWER: It will depend upon the terms of the release. Note that contracts, listings and buyer’s rep agreements are the property of the firm, NOT the agent who is working with the client. If the release stated that it was being released with the understanding that the buyer would then sign a buyer’s rep with XYZ company, then XYZ company may have a claim. If the buyer’s rep agreement was simply amended to state that it was with XYZ company, then the buyer could not then terminate.

Remember, however, that if the buyer’s rep agreement was amended and not just terminated, that amendment would have to have three signatures — the prior broker’s signature, the new broker’s signature, and the client’s signature approving the assignment of his/her agreement.

Whether or not this is an ethics violation will depend upon whether the listing agent interfered with the contract or convinced the buyer to terminate the contract and then go with them. More investigation would be needed to determine whether anything unethical took place.

[SOURCE: TAR’S Legal and Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]

6. Upcoming GRI and Other Courses

May 25: 2011-2012 Core Course (6 hrs. CE) – GNAR Office, Nashville. For more information or to register, call 615-254-7516.

June 8: 2011-2012 Residential Core Course (6 hrs. CE) – Clarksville Assn. Office, Clarksville. For more information or to register, call 931-552-3567.

June 8: 2011-2012 Commercial Core Course (6 hrs. CE) – NETAR Office. Gray, TN. For more information or to register, call 423-477-0040.

June 8: TransactionDesk Advanced Course (3 hrs. CE) – MAAR Office, Memphis. For more information or to register, call 901-818-2421.

June 9: 2011-2012 Residential Core Course (6 hrs. CE) – EMTAR Office, Mt. Juliet. For more information or to register, call 615-758-9851.

The complete 2011 schedule of GRI courses (both Classroom and E-Class) is online HERE.

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

7. Rates At Low Point For 2011

Freddie Mac reports that interest on 30-year fixed home loans slipped this past week to 4.61 percent from 4.63 percent, as the 15-year fixed rate moved down to 3.8 percent from 3.82 percent. The rates are the lowest, respectively, since mid-December and late November. While the rate break offers homeowners a way to save money through refinancing, it has not been enough to light a fire in the shaky housing market.

The Mortgage Bankers Association confirms that more borrowers pursued a refi than at any time since mid-December, yet the pace of refinancing remains half of what it was in the fall of 2010. Many borrowers, apparently, took the opportunity then to refinance; but, today, some lack the equity for a refi due to property depreciation or cannot meet underwriting criteria. Savings for those homeowners who do qualify, meanwhile, are likely to be offset by higher costs for appraisals, title insurance, and other expenses.

[SOURCES: Freddie Mac; Information, Inc.]

8. Useful Internet Links

Click on any of the following to access:

Back Issues of the TAR DIGEST
Tennessee Assn. of REALTORS
TAR Education
TAR on LinkedIn
TAR on Facebook
Follow TAR on Twitter
Online Risk Reduction Resources
Online Resources for Association Leaders
Tennessee Real Estate Commission