The 6-4-13 Newsletter of the Tennessee Association of REALTORS
Editor: Pug Scoville


1. Upcoming COURSES & EVENTS
2. HOT LINE: Were Multiple Offers Correctly Handled?
3. HOT LINE: A Haunted House?
4. HOT LINE: Earnest Money With Prior Firm?
5. Wrapping Up Tennessee’s Legislative Season
6. News from TREC…
7. Many Homeowners Unable to List
8. Get Paid For Your Problems!
9. SUN, SAND, SELL!!!
10. USEFUL LINKS


1. Upcoming COURSES & EVENTS

June 6 – 26: GRI 406, Tips, Tools, and Technologies for Your Business (8 hrs. CE) – An E-Class distance-learning course. For more information or to register: https://www.123signup.com/event?id=bzmnt

In our cost-conscious environment, remember that the GRI is the ONLY national Realtor designation you don’t have to pay an annual fee to keep!

Online CE Course Promotion for June: Enroll in any online CE Shop courses during the month of June and save 20%! Enter JUNE20 at checkout to receive your discount. Enroll at: http://tarnet.theceshop.com/


2. HOT LINE: Were Multiple Offers Correctly Handled?

QUESTION: I just put an offer in on a property. Later that day, I received an email that the sellers accepted another offer. I called the listing agent and asked her how many offers she had received – she told me one other. I then asked her if she told the 2nd agent that she had another offer (mine). She said she did. However, she did not call me and let me know she had another offer! She didn’t tell me the same information she told the other agent. It felt like she didn’t play fair. Is this a violation of ethics or procedure? Also, where can I get step-by-step procedures on how agents are to handle multiple offers with other agents?

ANSWER: There is no specific set of rules as to how to handle multiple offers. The NAR Code of Ethics does provide some guidance. In the event that a seller receives multiple offers, he must decide if he wants to ask for highest and best, or if he wants to simply work one offer of the ones already on the table. Agents are not required to disclose that there are multiple offers on a property but should follow the direction of their seller-client. Standard of Practice 1-15 states:

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
Realtors, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers shall, with the sellers’ approval, disclose the existence of offers on the property. Where disclosure is authorized [by the seller], Realtors shall also disclose, if asked, whether offers were obtained by the listing licensee, another licensee, in the listing firm, or by a cooperating broker.
*** END QUOTE ***

Therefore, an agent must only disclose multiple offers if the seller authorizes and if an agent asks.

If a seller has received multiple offers and wishes to ask for the highest and best offer, then TAR recommends the following: When this occurs, the seller (or his agent) notifies all interested buyers that there is a multiple offer situation where everyone should submit their highest and best offer by a particular date and time. This allows everyone interested in the property to have an opportunity to revise their offer if they wish. The seller then selects from these offers.

However, the seller may not have asked for highest and best in your situation.

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


3. HOT LINE: A Haunted House?

QUESTION: If a homeowner tells an agent their property is “haunted”, is the agent obligated to disclose this information to potential buyers?

ANSWER: According to Tenn. Code Ann. 66-5-207, an owner or agent is not required to volunteer this type of information. Pursuant to this statute:

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
Notwithstanding any of the provisions of this part, or any other statute or regulation, no cause of action shall arise against an owner or a real estate licensee for failure to disclose that an occupant of the subject real property, whether or not such real property is subject to this part, was afflicted with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other disease which has been determined by medical evidence to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupancy of a dwelling place, or that the real property was the site of: 1. An act or occurrence which had no effect on the physical structure of the real property, its physical environment or the improvements located thereon; or 2. A homicide, felony or suicide.
*** END QUOTE ***

Whether the home is haunted has no effect on the physical structure of the property. However, if you are asked directly about whether the house is haunted, you must be honest and answer the question truthfully …that the seller believes it is haunted. We would recommend advising your client that under the Broker’s Act if you are asked about whether it is haunted, you must answer honestly. If you do not answer truthfully, then you may be accused of misrepresentation.

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


4. HOT LINE: Earnest Money With Prior Firm?

QUESTION: I had a listing with a prior firm. The listing moved with me to my new firm, but the earnest money is still with the old firm. The buyer forfeited on the contract. How do I go about getting the earnest money from the old firm to the seller?

ANSWER: Typically, when an agent takes a contract with them, the earnest money should transfer as well unless the property is to close quickly following the transfer. In this situation, you or your new broker will need to contact the former broker to request that the earnest money be released.

You indicated that you were having difficulty in getting the former broker to distribute the funds. A principal broker is required under the Broker’s Act to distribute the funds in your escrow account “within a reasonable time.” – Tenn. Code Ann. 62-13-312(b)(5).

TREC has recently issued a new rule which defines what constitutes a reasonable time. Pursuant to TREC Rule 1260-2-.09(7), “Funds in escrow or trustee accounts shall be disbursed in a proper manner without unreasonable delay. Funds should be disbursed or interplead within twenty-one (21) calendar days from the date of receipt of a written request for disbursement of earnest money.”

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


5. Wrapping Up Tennessee’s Legislative Season

In case you missed it, here’s the wrapup report on the end of the Tennessee General Assembly’s Session:
http://tnrealtors.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/2013-General-Assembly-End-of-Session-Report.pdf

AND …if you have an interest in being a State Political Coordinator and assisting our grassroots political efforts, go to:
http://tnrealtors.com/governmental-affairs/tars-state-political-coordinator-program-overview/


6. News from TREC…

Two recent news items from the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC):

A. Beginning January 1, 2014, in accordance with a new state law, all applicants for an initial real estate license (including time share licenses) will be fingerprinted as part of the process. This will not apply to license renewals for existing licensees or to affiliate brokers applying for broker licenses. For more details, see: http://www.tn.gov/sos/acts/108/pub/pc0420.pdf

B. TREC has updated the License Reinstatement Policy. The major change is the amount required to opt out of attending a TREC meeting, as part of the procedure. The civil penalty was reduced to $750. For more details, see: http://www.tn.gov/regboards/trec/documents/2013-CPS-002-NewReinstatementPolicy.pdf


7. Many Homeowners Unable to List

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
Zillow Inc. reports that some 22 million Americans currently do not have enough home equity to move, which will hold back sales in the near term and keep property listings tight. The Seattle-based property data firm said 44 percent of homeowners with mortgages owed more than their houses are worth or had less than 20 percent equity during the first three months of this year. Consequently, they are most likely immobilized for the time being, as listing a home and purchasing a new one generally requires equity of at least 20 percent to meet down-payment costs and broker fees. According to Zillow researchers, those who are unable to sell are contributing to a shortfall of home inventory on the market. National Association of Realtors data shows that there were 2.16 million homes for sale last month, the fewest for any April in 12 years.
*** END QUOTE ***

To read more, go to the full Business Week report on this at: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-05-23/home-supply-limited-as-22-million-americans-lack-equity-to-sell


8. Get Paid For Your Problems!

We continue to solicit actual stories about troublesome situations that you’ve found yourself in …stories that could be used in TAR education courses and programs (without using actual names of course!).

We’ve already sent checks to THREE of your fellow-Realtors!

What’s YOUR story!?! We would love to hear the details (no names needed!) of any situations in which you’ve been involved – problems or scenarios that challenged you as a buyer’s agent OR as a seller’s agent. It can be something that you did or didn’t do, OR something that the agent on the “other side” of the transaction did or didn’t do!

Either way, if it’s a good story, we’d like to use it in some future education programs (changing any names, of course) AND we’ll pay up to $75 for any story we use!

To submit a story, simply write it up in an email with as much detail as possible, and email it (with your own name and address) to:


9. SUN, SAND, SELL!!!

SUN, SAND, SELL!!! Register now for the 2013 TAR Annual Convention in Destin, Florida, and 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 whould 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/


10. 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