The 4-23-13 Newsletter of the Tennessee Association of REALTORS
Editor: Pug Scoville


1. Upcoming COURSES & EVENTS
2. HOT LINE: Negative Comments on Area Schools?
3. HOT LINE: A Square Footage Dispute?
4. HOT LINE: Agent Taking Listing to a New Firm?
5. IN OTHER NEWS…
6. Get Your License To Sell!
7. USEFUL LINKS


1. Upcoming COURSES & EVENTS

April 22: For TODAY ONLY, NAR is offering 25% OFF each (online) Green Designation Course. ALL three GREEN Designation Courses are now each approved for 6 hours of CE. For more info or to register, go HERE.

April 25 – May 15: GRI 404, Working More Effectively With Sellers (8 Hours CE) – an E-Class distance-learning course. For more information or to register: https://www.123signup.com/event?id=bzmbf

April 30: Candidate School Training Academy – TAR Office, Nashville. For more information or to apply: http://tnrealtors.com/RealtorAcademy

To see GRI Courses (both classroom and E-Class) scheduled in May and beyond, go to: http://tnrealtors.com/education/gri/

The CE Shop – a TREEF Partner – is VERY pleased to announce the addition of their latest course, the Tennessee 2013-2014 Residential Core Course (6 Hours CE)! Many have been waiting for this news! To access this course and their other online CE offerings, go to: http://tarnet.theceshop.com


2. HOT LINE: Negative Comments on Area Schools?

QUESTION: Are Realtors permitted to influence their buyer as to what schools they consider to be the best and steer them away from certain neighborhoods because they feel one of the schools will hurt them on resale value? I work in New Construction and have this happen CONSTANTLY where agents tell their clients they would never want to buy a home that is zoned to a particular school (even when the client doesn’t have children!)

ANSWER: The issue of schools in a particular area can be a touchy issue, particularly when one takes into account Fair Housing laws and Article 10 of the Code of Ethics. While the Fair Housing laws and Article 10 do not specifically address the quality of a particular school district, it could affect this subject indirectly. An agent could be accused of “steering” particularly if there is a correlation (or a perceived correlation) between the quality of the schools in an area and the racial or ethnic composition of a particular neighborhood. Do NOT make phrases such as “the schools are not good”, “they have low test scores” or “the schools are declining”. These types of comments could be perceived as being code words for racial or other differences within a particular community. This could lead to allegations of violations of the Fair Housing laws.

In addition, a Realtor could make a statement about the area schools for which a property is zoned, only to have the buyer discover at a later date that the information was incorrect or the school zoning was in the process of being changed …leading to a charge of possible misrepresentation!

This makes if difficult for Realtors to know what they can and cannot say about the school systems. Therefore, NAR recommends that an agent not give his/her own opinion about the schools in an area. This does not mean that the subject of schools is off limits. This is a critical question for many buyers. Instead of commenting that a school system is “good” or “bad”, give the buyer objective information so that they can do their own research about a particular school or school system and form their own opinion. Fred Underwood of NAR gives the following advice:

“Keep a list of school or community-based websites that offer information about schools so you’re prepared to provide those web addresses to your customers,” says Underwood. “Better still, build relationships with local schools, so you know where to direct people’s inquiries. Be equipped to provide contact information at schools or make appointments with the schools – so your customers can go visit the school and find out for themselves.”

These methods can keep a Realtor from unintentionally violating the Fair Housing laws or a violation of Article 10 of the Code of Ethics.

For some additional good information put out by NAR on Realtors discussing the issue of schools in a particular area, please see NAR’s Public Schools: A Toolkit for Realtors. The Appendix of this packet specifically addresses how to handle difficult questions posed by buyers on school systems.

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


3. HOT LINE: A Square Footage Dispute?

QUESTION: I have a seller that is disputing the manner in which I measured the square footage of their property. What is the correct/legal way to do this?

ANSWER: We do not recommend that agents calculate square footage. Square footage (or gross living area) is difficult to determine and is ripe for a misrepresentation claim.

There are several acceptable ways in which to determine square footage. Additionally, if you have 3 different people determine square footage, you are likely to get three different answers. If the square footage included in the MLS is incorrect, the REALTOR could be liable for negligent misrepresentation depending upon what he or she did to verify the information obtained and when the discrepancy is discovered (i.e. before contract entered into, after closing).

We recommend that square footage be listed as an “approximate” amount and that a disclaimer be included noting that the amount of square footage is not guaranteed. We would also recommend either listing the square footage as what is listed on the tax records or as calculated by an appraiser and indicate the source. The important thing is that the information concerning square footage is disclosed so as to avoid misrepresentation. We would recommend going with either the tax records or from an appraiser’s measurements.

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


4. HOT LINE: Agent Taking Listing to a New Firm?

QUESTION: What form do I need to use in order to release a listing to an agent to take to their new firm?

ANSWER: If the agent is taking the listing with them (with the permission of their former broker), then several things will have to happen. First, the broker will need to document that he is transferring the listing. Your MLS may have a form for this. TAR does not have a form for this. Secondly, the new company will need to do an amendment to the listing agreement and the contract documenting the change in listing company and a new confirmation of agency status form will need to be signed. Another option would be for the original company to release the listing (using form F82). However, this does not obligate the seller to resign a listing agreement with the second company.

You indicated that you will be requiring a referral fee for these transferred listings. We do not have a form which will do all these things together. However, you can use the regular Referral Agreement form.

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


5. IN OTHER NEWS…

Are you having fun yet? Actually, CareerBliss recently ranked the 10 happiest professions in America for 2013. Drum roll, please. Real estate agents came in a Number 1! [Unfortunately, we’ve met some Realtors who would NOT exactly be proof of this.] To see who came in below real estate professionals, go HERE.

SUN, SAND, SELL!!! It’s not too early to register for the 2013 TAR Annual Convention in Destin, Florida. Enjoy great education, a beautiful beach, wonderful events, area golf, and a chance to network with other Realtors across Tennessee! With the revival of a healthy real estate market in so many areas, this should be the PERFECT WAY to reward your own hard work this year! For more information or to register, go to: http://tnrealtors.com/meetings-and-events/convention/

News from the National Assn. of Home Builders: Facing increasing costs for building materials and rising concerns about the supply of developed lots and labor, builders registered less confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in April, with a two-point drop to 42 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). “Many builders are expressing frustration over being unable to respond to the rising demand for new homes due to difficulties in obtaining construction credit, overly restrictive mortgage lending rules and construction costs that are increasing at a faster pace than appraised values,” said Rick Judson, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C. “While sales conditions are generally improving, these challenges are holding back new building and job creation.”

PLEASE REMEMBER: Last week was a traumatic week for our country. Our thoughts and prayers – hopefully yours as well – continue to be with those who experienced tragedies last week in Boston and in Texas.


6. Get Your LICENSE TO SELL!

Do you have your License to Sell?

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TAR is holding a contest for every REALTOR who proudly displays his or her special REALTOR “Celebrate Homeownership!” License Plate! Your assignment for this mission (i.e., contest) is to show your REALTOR pride by submitting a photo of you and your Tennessee REALTOR license plate to TAR’s Facebook page.

Show off your License to Sell on our Facebook page and you could win up to $500! Encourage your friends to vote for you and have an even better chance to win! For more retails, go to: http://goo.gl/qXt1j


7. USEFUL LINKS

To access current and past TAR DIGESTS: http://www.tardigest.com

Follow TAR on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/tnaor

TAR’s LinkedIn page: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=852077&trk=hb_side_g

TAR’s page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nashville-TN/Tennessee-Association-of-RealtorsR/15041383689

To ask a TAR Legal and Ethics Hot Line question: http://tnrealtors.com/services-support/legal-ethics-hotline/

For CE classroom courses around the state, go to: http://tnrealtors.com/education/realtor-courses/

For online CE courses, go to: http://tnrealtors.com/education/online-courses/

Tennessee Real Estate Commission: http://tn.gov/regboards/trec/

To check your CE credits on file with TREC, go to: http://verify.tn.gov