The 3-31-15 Newsletter of the Tennessee Association of REALTORS
Editor: Pug Scoville


1. Why Your Sellers Need to Sell Now
2. REALLY Attractive Rates Currently
3. Hackers Targeting Real Estate Agents
4. Your Independent Contractor Status
5. Crime Doesn’t Pay
6. UPDATES on COURSES & EVENTS!
7. HOT LINE: Repair Money Held in Escrow?
8. HOT LINE: Is a New Listing Agreement Needed?
9. HOT LINE: How To Terminate a Buyer Rep Agreement?
10. Check Your Own CE Hours, Etc.

“Stop worrying about the world ending today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” — Charles M. Schulz

NOTE: If you’re reading this on a mobile device (iPhone, etc.), GO HERE for a mobile-friendly DIGEST.


1. Why Your Sellers Need to Sell Now

CNNMoney just posted four good reasons why your prospective sellers need to go ahead and list their homes now in a new article (“4 reasons to sell your home now“) by Kathryn Vasel. The author quotes one study showing that mid-March to mid-April is the best time to hang the sale sign nationally, with homes selling 15% faster and for 2% more than the average sale.

Her four reasons for listing a home now:

1. Low housing supply, tight inventory
2. Fewer cash buyers
3. Higher interest rates coming soon
4. Rising rents

To read more, go HERE.


2. REALLY Attractive Rates Currently

Current mortgage rates make homebuying very attractive right now!

According to the latest report from Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.69 percent with an average 0.6 point this past week, down from the previous week when it averaged 3.78 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.40 percent.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week averaged 2.97 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from the prior week when it averaged 3.06 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.42 percent.


3. Hackers Targeting Real Estate Agents

A new Inman News article says the increase in data breaches and a recent court decision (allowing banks to sue Target for its 2013 credit card hack) should be of concern to real estate agents and brokers.

Given that they collect a significant amount of personal information — names, addresses, Social Security numbers, employment information, annual incomes, lists of assets, checking and savings account information, and businesses owned, etc. — realty professionals should understand that they will face litigation if criminals get hold of that information and use it and the security breach is traced back to them.

This means you should take steps to protect yourselves, your clients, and your clients’ personal information. Among other steps, you should consider disconnecting your office computer from the Internet and your office’s internal network; client information needed during the buying or selling process should be stored only on an Internet-free machine. Personal information should be removed from the hard drive after the transaction is complete, and those who want to retain the information should put it on a portable storage device kept in the broker’s office under lock and key. Ultimately, you should keep in mind that no Internet means no access for criminals.

To read more, go HERE.


4. Your Independent Contractor Status

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has recently issued a White Paper on Independent Contractor Status — the status, for tax purposes, that almost all Realtors enjoy, since you are not generally classified as employees. You can access the NAR White Paper HERE.

NAR also provides a state-by-state description of STATE laws under which real estate agents may qualify as independent contractors. Tennessee’s law, for example, provides that agents may be classified as independent contractors IF:

“(A) The individual is a licensed real estate agent;
(B) Substantially all of the remuneration for the services performed as a real estate agent is directly related to sales or other output, including the performance of services, rather than the number of hours worked; and
(C) The services performed by the individual are performed pursuant to a written contract between the individual and the person for whom the services are performed, and the contract provides that the individual will not be treated as an employee with respect to the services for federal tax (FUTA) purposes;”


5. Crime Doesn’t Pay

In the news this past week…

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
A Nashville man was arrested Thursday for fabricating evidence and criminal simulation after he reportedly used his fingerprints so someone else could obtain a real estate license.

…According to the TBI, [Stephen] Hill went to a Davidson County business on Feb. 14, 2014 and tried to submit his fingerprints as someone else’s so that person could get a real estate license.
*** END QUOTE ***

To read more, go HERE.


6. UPDATES on COURSES & EVENTS!

April 10: Power Negotiator’s Playbook (6 hrs. CE) – TAR Office, Nashville. Taught by Adorna Carroll, this new 1-day Course with 2 CRB credits is an interactive experience to help negotiators elevate their game! For more info or to register, go to: http://bit.ly/1xmfWAH

The first three classroom GRI courses of 2015 are coming up soon:

April 15 — GRI 401: Doing the Right Thing (6 hrs. CE)
April 16 — GRI 402: Staying in Business and Out of Court (6 hrs. CE)
April 17 — GRI 403: Working More Effectively with Buyers (6 hrs. CE)

Once again, the GRI EXPRESS option can be used to register for ALL THREE GRI courses in a given location …for a savings of $55! The complete 2015 Schedule of GRI courses — with links to registration for them — is posted on the TAR website at: http://tnrealtors.com/education/gri/

There are 10 good reasons to earn YOUR GRI! Just go to: https://vimeo.com/90565297

You can ALSO begin work toward your GRI designation ONLINE! To find out how, go to: http://tnrealtors.com/education/e-class-gri-information/

See all UPCOMING COURSES at: http://tnrealtors.com/education/


7. HOT LINE: Repair Money Held in Escrow?

QUESTION: At closing, repairs are agreed upon and a $1,000 check was written by the seller to my office to be held in escrow. Can this check be held in the escrow account (with proper documentation) for the purpose of disbursement when repairs are made?

ANSWER: This is fine as long as the money is to be paid to the entity who performs the repairs (not the buyer). We would strongly recommend using RF 482, Escrow Agreement. This sets forth the terms under which you would hold the funds and when they can be distributed.

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


8. HOT LINE: Is a New Listing Agreement Needed?

QUESTION: With regard to Form RF601, Amendment to Listing Agreement – If I have a listing that has expired for approximately 2 weeks, do I use form RF601 or do a new listing agreement? Further, if I take a listing off the market for 6 months, do I use form RF601 or do a new listing agreement?

ANSWER: If a listing (like any other contract) expires, then it is dead. It may be possible to “revive” it, but this would be very complicated to do correctly. Therefore, we recommend that in a situation in which a listing has expired that the parties draw up a new agreement. This can be prevented if the parties agree in writing to extend the listing on the original expiration date via the Amendment to the Listing Agreement (RF 601).

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


9. HOT LINE: How To Terminate a Buyer Rep Agreement?

QUESTION: How do you legally terminate a buyer’s representation agreement?

ANSWER: A buyer’s rep agreement is a written contract which establishes an agency relationship between a buyer and a real estate company. In order to terminate this contract, it requires a termination and release in writing and signed by all parties to the buying agreement (unless the agreement allows for one side to terminate without the approval of the other. TAR’s forms do not provide this option). It should terminate the contract and release both sides from the obligations under the original buyer’s rep agreement. Until this is completed, the buyer’s representation agreement will continue in place until its natural termination.

If you have a buyer who wishes to terminate their buyer’s representation agreement with you, your principal broker must decide whether you wish to hold them to that contract or not. This is completely up to the broker as to whether they want to release them from the representation agreement. TAR provides a form for you to use if you wish to agree to terminate the buyer’s representation agreement – form RF 151. If it is a listing agreement that is being terminated, the form does provide a carry over clause (if they sell their home within X days without the help of another agent who was introduced to it by the original listing agent) and a place to negotiate a cancellation fee. It also provides for a complete release with no fees having to be paid.

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


10. Check Your Own CE Hours, Etc.

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

To go to the TAR website: http://tnrealtors.com

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/